may 1, 2017 - China launches an unmanned sample return mission to the Moon
Following the success of its first lunar lander in 2013, China attempts a more ambitious sample return mission, known as Chang'e 5. This is launched in 2017,obtaining about 2 kg (4 lb) of moon rock, bringing it back to Earth for study. The robot deployed on the surface has a mission life of three months. It can choose its own routes, avoid obstacles and perform experiments with a mechanical arm. It comes equipped with a suite of sensors including cameras, X-ray and infrared spectrometers and a ground-penetrating radar. It has solar panels and a supplementary power source for night work in the form of a plutonium-238 nuclear battery – the same type of radioisotope thermoelectric generator system (RTG) installed on NASA's Mars Science Laboratory. China has big plans beyond 2017. The nation intends to build its own space station by 2022, send humans to the Moon by 2025 and construct a lunar base shortly thereafter.
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