The return of China’s Chang’e-5 spacecraft, which transports the earth and precious rocks collected from the moon, is about to end its journey and land in the Siziwang Banner in northern China’s Inner Mongolia.
The ground team at the landing site was fully prepared for the historic task after several simulation exercises, according to Tuesday’s search and recovery team.
The team is from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China. Although the task – the last step of the Chang’e-5 mission – is back on Earth, it is still full of challenges and difficulties.
1. Landing of a small spacecraft in a large possible area
The landing site in Siziwang Banner was the place where Shenzhou manned spacecraft from China landed. However, the size of Chang’e-5’s return is only one-seventh of a spacecraft’s return capsule, while its possible landing area is 16 times larger than the latter. This means that the search work could be much more difficult.
2. Place the revenger on a snow-covered ground on a cold winter night
It is now winter in Inner Mongolia, and the landing site has been covered in snow.
The returner is expected to reach the night, which adds to the difficulties for the search. During the simulation exercises, high-power projectors were installed on helicopters and ground vehicles to help them quickly find the target.
3. Complicated landing conditions
Four years have passed since the last search and recovery mission was carried out at the landing site in Siziwang Banner, which has undergone major changes since then. Many new facilities such as wire fences, high voltage transmission lines and mobile base stations have been built there.
To ensure the safe landing of helicopters and the timely arrival of search vehicles, the team conducted nearly 30 topographic surveys of the possible landing area. Obstacles such as wire towers and wind measuring towers were marked, as well as special landforms such as ravines and small lakes.
In the last simulation exercise, after receiving the sixth landing forecast from the Beijing Mission Command Center, two groups of personnel – one by helicopter and one by ground vehicle – headed simultaneously to the planned landing site. The air team arrived quickly, and the ground team helped with the orderly recovery.