China’s mission to bring back lunar soil reaches advanced stage

China’s mission to collect about two kilograms of soil from the moon’s surface and bring it back to earth has reached an advanced stage, according to a leading space official.

Last Updated: Mar 16, 2012, 16:18 PM IST

Beijing: China’s mission to collect about two kilograms of soil from the moon’s surface and bring it back to earth has reached an advanced stage, according to a leading space official.

This mission is part of the third phase of the lunar exploration program.

Hu Hao, chief designer of the lunar exploration program’s third phase and a deputy to the National People``s Congress, which ended on Wednesday, has said engineers are expected to put down the groundwork on the mission this year.

“The mission will involve a relay approach, that will require precision meeting and docking in lunar orbit,” The China Daily quoted Hu, as saying.

The mission will see a rocket launched from Earth, and a four-module spacecraft will then enter lunar orbit.

Two modules will be landed on the moon with one of them will perform the task of scooping up soil. The collected soil would then be placed into the ascending module that will blast off from the lunar surface and dock with the orbiting module. The sample will then be moved from this module to one that will be thrown overboard for Earth re-entry.

Hu refused to confirm the launch date of the product, but said several key technologies have to be improved to reach perfection, including the launch of the ascending module from the lunar surface and the collection of soil samples.

“It``s impossible to know the conditions that the module descending onto the moon will experience,” Hu said.

“They could be sandy, or rocky, and collecting soil samples depends on the type of conditions at the landing site,” he added.

ANI