Docking done, China’s Chang’e moon mission is ready to return to Earth

Docking done, China’s Chang’e moon mission is ready to return to Earth

China’s Chang’e 5 unmanned probe completed a tricky docking manoeuvre with a spacecraft orbiting the moon on Sunday, moving one step closer in its mission to bring back lunar samples for the first time in more than 40 years.

The probe, named after the mythical Chinese moon goddess, lifted off the lunar surface on Thursday and linked up with orbiting spacecraft at 6.12am, according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) in Beijing.

A robot arm lifted the container holding the samples into the orbiter. The orbiter will separate from the probe and leave lunar orbit on its return journey to Earth.