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China's Chang'e 5 probe lands Moon rocks in Inner Mongolia

A small steppe for probe, giant leaps await science ... and propaganda

China has landed its Chang'e 5's probe and its precious payload of Moon rocks.

The China National Space Agency reports that the re-entry capsule started the final leg of its journey at 01:00 local time, then hit the atmosphere at 11.2 km/sec at 01:33 am.

That first approach resulted in a planned bounce, before a second approach at just 7.9km/sec allowed it to return to Earth. At an altitude of 10km, the vehicle’s parachutes popped and at 01:59 am local time it hit the grass in the Inner Mongolia county of Siziwang.

A Chinese flag was quickly hoisted next to the capsule.

China’s chuffed at the mission’s success, as it makes it just the third nation to bring back bits of Luna. The endeavour also went off without a hitch, with even the damage to the probe's lander when the return module lifted off not unexpected.

State media are not holding back with descriptions of the mission’s many milestones, or the fact that samples will be shared with other nations. Some of the rocks will also be put on public display to inspire Chinese youth.

China plans a space station and moon base, so its kids already have a lot to look up to. Of course such opportunities will only be possible if their social credit score, measured using pervasive surveillance, marks them out as suitable for such honours. ®

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