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China lands on Moon while Musk wants Mars in six years

Chang’e 5 touching down on the Moon. Picture: CNSA/CLEP

Luxembourg, 2 December 2020. – China successfully landed an uncrewed spacecraft on the Moon while Elon Musk accelerates his timetable to send humans to Mars.

China landed its Chang’e-5 probe, which it launched end of November, on the Moon’s surface, Chinese CCTV and international media reported. The mission, named after the mythical Chinese Moon goddess, will attempt to collect two kilograms of lunar material in a large lava plain called Oceanus Procellarum, Ocean of Storms.

If the mission succeeds, China would be the third country in the world to bring Moon samples back to Earth, after the U.S. and the Soviet Union. China is preparing a test of its super heavy Long March 9 launcher for crewed lunar and space missions for around 2030, Chinese officials said end of November.

In the meantime, SpaceX founder Elon Musk wants to go further and “Occupy Mars”, as SpaceX likes to call it. Musk declared at an award event of Axel Springer publisher in Berlin that he was “highly confident” that a first crewed mission would go to Mars in six years or even – “if we get lucky” – as early as 2024. The first uncrewed Mars mission is in Musk’s calendar for around 2022.

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