China is set to launch a robotic moon mission this week, a "trial by fire" test of re-entry technology for the country's future lunar sample-return efforts.
To date there has been little official word on this unmanned mission, which may launch as early as Thursday (Oct. 23). It will apparently send a spacecraft around the moon; on its way back toward Earth, the probe will release a capsule to perform a high-speed plunge through the planet's atmosphere. The capsule will parachute onto terra firma to complete its voyage.
The soon-to-launch moon probe is based on China's Chang'e 2 lunar orbiter design and modified to carry the re-entry test capsule. The mission, which some China space watchers are calling "Chang'e 5 T1," is to last some nine days. Read more >>