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China Space Agency: Lunar Probe Successfully Lands on Moon

FILE - A Long March 5 rocket carrying China's Chang'e-5 lunar probe launches from the Wenchang Space Center on China's southern Hainan Island, November 24, 2020, on a mission to bring back lunar rocks.

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has announced its Chang'e-5 spacecraft, designed to collect lunar samples and return them to Earth, successfully landed on the near side of the moon.

China state media report the spacecraft arrived at the preselected landing area Tuesday and sent back images to the CNSA.

The spacecraft – composed of orbiter, lander, ascender and returner components - was launched a week ago.

The CNSA said the lander-ascender combination of the Chang'e-5 probe began a powered descent from about 15 kilometers above the lunar surface. They say the probe touched down on the north of the region known as Mons Rumker in Oceanus Procellarum, also called the Ocean of Storms, on the near side of the moon.

Under ground control, the lander carried out a series of status checks and settings, preparing for about 48 hours of work on the lunar surface.

The space agency said about 2 kilograms of samples are expected to be collected and sealed in a container. Then the ascender will take off and dock with the orbiter-returner combination in orbit. After the samples are transferred to the returner, the ascender will separate from the orbiter-returner.

The orbiter is expected to carry the returner back to Earth. The returner is scheduled to reenter the atmosphere and land at Siziwang Banner in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.