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China says probe sent to retrieve lunar rocks lands on moon

Flames and exhaust trail behind a Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang'e 5 lunar mission after it lifted off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang in southern China's Hainan Province, early Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. China launched an ambitious mission on Tuesday to bring back material from the moon's surface for the first time in more than 40 years - an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally.
Flames and exhaust trail behind a Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang’e 5 lunar mission after it lifted off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang in southern China’s Hainan Province, early Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. China launched an ambitious mission on Tuesday to bring back material from the moon’s surface for the first time in more than 40 years — an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally.Mark Schiefelbein/AP

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese robot probe launched to return lunar rocks to Earth landed on the moon Tuesday, the government announced.

The Chang’e 5 probe “successfully landed on the moon in the pre-selected landing area,” the official China News Service said, citing space officials. The one-sentence report gave no more details.

The probe, launched Nov. 24 from the tropical southern island of Hainan, adds to a string of increasingly bold missions by a Chinese space program that aims eventually to land a human on the moon.

Plans call for the robot lander to drill into the lunar surface and load 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and debris into an ascent stage that will blast off to return them to Earth.

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