China’s space program celebrated a major accomplishment this week when its Chang’e 5 lunar probe mission safely landed on the moon. The landing Tuesday brought Beijing a step closer to becoming the third country in the world to retrieve geological samples from the moon, but more important, analysts say, is that China is accruing experience for more ambitious plans.
The goal of this mission is to extract 2 kilograms of sample from the moon’s northern Mons Rümker region and bring it back to the Earth. If the mission succeeds, China will join the U.S. and the former Soviet Union as the only countries to have collected lunar samples.
Analysts say the complexity of Chang’e 5’s unmanned exploration mission shows the great progress of China’s space capabilities, and, if successful, will likely help Beijing realize future plans for manned moon landings and the construction of bases.
Namrata Goswami, an Indian defense expert and now a space policy and geopolitical scholar living in the U.S., told VOA that Chang’e 5 would allow China to advance “their understanding of rendezvous and docking, especially when they are planning on human landing.”