China is seizing leadership in Moon exploration
23 November 2020, 16:41
Technology
Already today, the Chinese will launch an automatic station to the Earth's satellite, one of the modules of which will return to Earth with lunar soil samples.

Space expert Vitaly Yegorov under the nickname "Green Cat" drew attention in his publication to the activity of China in the exploration of the moon. So, late tonight, the Chinese will launch the automatic interplanetary station Chang'e 5, which in a little over three weeks (presumably on December 17) will deliver about 2 kilograms of lunar soil to Earth.

As you know, the Americans from the Apollo 11 expedition were the first to bring such a load (21.5 kg.) To our planet in 1969, sharing it with all other countries, including the USSR. In 1970, the Soviet apparatus Luna-16 delivered 101 grams of regolith from a depth of about 30 centimeters. And the apparatus "Luna-24" in 1976 was able to drill the lunar surface by 2.3 meters and lift 170 grams of soil from there.

But after that, nothing more was brought from the Moon, so now China will be able, by delivering a new batch of soil from the Moon, to demonstrate both its technological achievements and its leadership in studying the natural satellite of the Earth.

Since the late 2000s, China has been successfully developing its lunar program, having already made six launches, leaving two lunar rovers there, and also making one successful return from a lunar orbit. Now it is up to the most complex and most ambitious automatic program not only on the Moon, but also in all interplanetary astronautics - Chang'e 5. It includes four spacecraft at once, which will be accelerated to the Moon by a rocket.

Flight module for entering a circumlunar orbit, and for returning the soil to Earth.

The descent module, which is separated from the transfer module in low orbit, will provide a soft landing for the drilling rig and the takeoff vehicle.

The takeoff vehicle, which will rise from the lunar surface into a low orbit, will dock with the orbital vehicle and transfer the capsules with soil to the reentry module.

The reentry vehicle, which is contained within the transfer vehicle, will provide entry into the atmosphere at the 2nd space speed, as well as a soft landing.

The Chinese have long mastered orbital flights to the moon and landing on its surface, as well as returning from there. But they have not yet carried out an automatic docking in a circumlunar orbit, and will be the first in the world to do this. And this means nothing more than a rehearsal of a manned flight to the moon, which is becoming more and more real. From a scientific point of view, China is not on the beaten track, choosing a goal different from previous expeditions.

The first Apollo landed in a level and safe place - on the lunar seas. Then the task became more complicated in order to take samples of the most ancient rocks of the moon and thus find out its age and the circumstances of its origin. But the Soviet stations in this regard had too limited a choice of landing sites, since there were ballistic restrictions, and there was no complex control system for the returned missiles.

Chinese scientists have chosen a landing site in the volcanic region of the Rumkera Mountains, which are located in the northwest of the visible side of the Moon. This volcano is 70 kilometers across and 1.3 kilometers high.

The flat area northeast of it, chosen for planting, is littered with young volcanic soil, formed during the last period of active volcanic activity on the Moon, from which it took less than 1.5 billion years. Nobody has samples of such soil on Earth, and they will be very important for dating the surface of the Moon. In addition, new soil samples will tell you about the strength of the moon's magnetic field, and this will make it possible to judge the features of the lunar core, lunar volcanism and, in general, the evolution of the moon.

With the success of this expedition, the next Chinese lunar program - Chang'e 6 - will deal with the circumpolar regions of the planet, and will allow scientists to finally obtain samples of lunar water and other frozen volatile substances of the ancient lunar atmosphere.

As you know, it is the deposits of water at the lunar poles and its delivery to Earth that are of concern to many space agencies, including Roskosmos, but China, it seems, will overtake everyone.