How many Asians have been in space

Space travel: the blueprint behind China's lunar mission

So far, the age of the surface rocks could only be determined indirectly, by counting the number of impact craters and calibrating the result with the directly measured age of Apollo samples. "We will now determine the age precisely with the help of isotope chronology," says Lin. In addition, one wants to combine the results with mineralogical investigations in order to understand why the volcanic eruptions in this region lasted so long, while most of the magma on the moon had already solidified for three billion years.

Many scientists assume that relatively high levels of radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium played a role. These would have produced so much decay heat that volcanism could last for a long time. The geochemistry of the lunar soil at the Chang'e-5 landing site could help either substantiate or invalidate the theory.

Already the next destination in sight

But even after evaluating the results, many questions will remain unanswered, according to Lin. “We don't have any samples from the far side or the South Pole. But this is important, for example, to understand the difference between the side facing and facing away from the earth. "

Presumably, Lin and his colleagues won't have to wait too long for the required missions. So far, the Chinese lunar program has shown no weaknesses. Launched at all in 2004, seven probes and landers have flown to the moon so far, all of them successfully. The highlight of the program so far in 2019 was the soft landing of the previous probe Chang'e-4 with a rover on the far side of the moon.

In this video from China’s space agency, the Chang’e 5 sample return mission ascent vehicle - with a crescent Earth behind it - approaches a return craft in orbit around the moon.

Chang’e 5 completed the first robotic docking in lunar orbit Saturday.https: //t.co/kS5te7aytdpic.twitter.com/h8OPd0VCo9

- Spaceflight Now (@SpaceflightNow) December 6, 2020

Three more Chang'e missions are to follow, including one to the South Pole. An unmanned research station and finally a manned research station in the 2030s are planned - in addition to ongoing Mars missions and a space station in near-earth orbit. That is ambitious.

Chinese astronauts on the moon

"I have no concerns that the Chinese can do that," says Maurizio Falanga, Executive Director at the International Space Science Institute in Beijing for seven years until 2019. “You did everything that was necessary for that. They have satellite communications for the back of the moon. You have mastered the docking and landed softly. That's necessary when you have people on board. And they have astronauts who are used to living in space. It's just a matter of time and cost. "