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Chang'e 5-T1

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Chang'e 5-T1
Chang'e 5-T1's re-entry module after vacuum thermal tests
Mission typeChang'e 5 precursor mission, lunar flyby and Earth reentry
COSPAR ID2014-065A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.40283
Mission duration8 days, 4 hours, 42 minutes
Return capsule
6 years, 1 month, 1 day
Flyby/orbiter bus
Spacecraft properties
BusDFH-3A [1]
Launch mass3,300 kg [2];
(Service Module approximately 2,215 kg, return capsule under 335 kg)
Start of mission
Launch date23 October 2014, 18:00 (2014-10-23UTC18) UTC [3][4]
RocketLong March 3C/G2
Launch siteXichang LC-2
End of mission
Last contact24 November 2020, 08:50 (2020-11-24UTC08:51) UTC[5]
Flyby/orbiter bus
Landing date31 October 2014, 22:42 (2014-10-31UTC22:43) UTC[6][7]
Return capsule
Landing siteSiziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLunar free return

Chang'e 5-T1 (Chinese: 嫦娥五号T1; pinyin: Cháng'é wǔhào T1) was an experimental robotic spacecraft that was launched to the Moon on 23 October 2014, by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) to conduct atmospheric re-entry tests on the capsule design planned to be used in the Chang'e 5 mission.[3][8][9] As part of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, Chang'e 5, launched in 2020, was a Moon sample return mission. Like its predecessors, the spacecraft is named after the Chinese Moon goddess Chang'e. The craft consisted of a return vehicle capsule and a service module orbiter.[10]

The return capsule of Chang'e 5-T1, named Xiaofei (Chinese: 小飞), meaning "little flyer" in Chinese, landed in Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia, on 31 October 2014, 22:42 UTC. The CE-5-T1 Service Module entered lunar orbit on 13 January 2015.[11] Its initial orbit was 200 x 5,300 km with a period of 8 hours.


Successful re-entry

It consisted of a DFH-3A "Chang'e 2 type" spacecraft with a mass of approximately 2,215 kg (including 1,065 kg of fuel)[12] carrying the Chang'e 5 return capsule with a mass of under 335 kg.[13] The craft was launched by a Long March 3C rocket into a lunar free return trajectory. It looped behind the Moon and returned to Earth, with the return capsule testing the high speed atmospheric skip reentry.

The DFH-3A "service module" remained in orbit around the Earth before being relocated via Earth-Moon L2 to lunar Lissajous orbit by 13 January 2015, where it will use its remaining 800 kg of fuel to test maneuvers key to future lunar missions.[14]

In February and March 2015, the DFH-3A "service module" performed two "virtual target" rendezvous tests for the future Chang'e 5 mission. In April 2015, the small monitoring camera was used to obtain higher resolution photos of Chang'e 5's landing zone.

Mission profile[edit]

Main Mission[edit]

  • Launch: Xichang Satellite Launch Center, 23 October 2014, 18:00 UTC
  • Nominal mission duration: Chang'e 5 return capsule: 196 hours (8.17 days)
  • Nominal mission duration: DFH-3A: Ongoing
  • Lunar fly-by: 97 hours after final orbit insertion (4.04 days)
  • Periselenium: ≈13,000 km from Moon surface
  • Distance of Moon from Earth at closest fly-by: ≈373,000 km[15][16][17]
  • Landing: Siziwang Banner, Inner Mongolia, 31 October 2014, 22:42 UTC

Lunar Orbiter[edit]

In January 2015, the service module transitioned to lunar orbit, orbiting at 200x5300 km. It was still active in early 2018 [1] and was last heard by amateur radio-astronomers in late 2020.[5]

Hertzsprung crater as seen by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. The impact position for the booster was estimated at latitude 5.18 N, longitude 233.55 E.[18][19]

Third stage disposal[edit]

Animation of Chang'e 5-T1 booster's impact on the Moon on March 4, 2022
  Chang'e 5-T1 booster ·   Earth ·   Moon

The Long March 3C third stage booster, left in orbit between the Earth and the Moon, was predicted to hit, and did hit, the Moon on March 4, 2022, impacting near the Hertzsprung crater.[20][19] Independent spectral analysis from the University of Arizona confirmed its Chinese origin.[21] NASA has published a note on the event. China's foreign ministry has denied this identification, stating that the booster had already burned up in the Earth's atmosphere (albeit referring to the later Chang'e 5 mission in his answer).[22][18] The US Space Command confirmed the third stage never reentered in Earth's atmosphere,[23] and a compatible item is now present on the Space-Track catalogue as object 85900.[24] The impactor object was previously misidentified as 2015-007B, the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket which launched NASA's Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft, but was later correctly identified as the Long March stage in February 2022. The event showed the challenges of tracking small objects in deep space, underlining the importance of sustainability in space operations going forward.[25]

In June 2022, a compatible double crater was found by the LROC team at the same location previously estimated,[26] and later by Chandrayaan-2 OHRC.[27]

Secondary payloads[edit]

Chang'e 5-T1 also carried the first commercial payload to the Moon[28] called the 4M mission (Manfred Memorial Moon Mission) for the German space technology company OHB System, in honor of the company's founder, Manfred Fuchs, who died in 2014. Technical management of the 4M mission was performed by LuxSpace. The payload weighs 14 kilograms and contains two scientific instruments. The first instrument is a radio beacon to test a new approach for locating spacecraft. Amateur radio operators were encouraged via prize incentives to receive the transmissions and send the results back to LuxSpace.[29] The second instrument, a radiation dosimeter provided by the Spanish company iC-Málaga, continuously measured radiation levels throughout the satellite's circumlunar path.[30][31]

The spacecraft also carries a radiation exposure experiment with bacteria and plants.[1][32][33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Chang'e 5-T1 (CE 5-T1)". Gunter's Space Page. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Chang'e 5-T1" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved 30 November 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Chinese Long March Rocket successfully launches Lunar Return Demonstrator". Spaceflight101. 23 October 2014. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  4. ^ "China launches test return orbiter for lunar mission". Xinhuanet. 24 October 2014. Archived from the original on 23 October 2014.
  5. ^ a b Scott Tilley [@coastal8049] (24 November 2020). "CE5T1 coming in loud and clear now as Moon clears the trees. Sidebands present. Made a change over timing to allow for accurate tracking moving forward" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  6. ^ "China completes first mission to moon and back". Space Daily. 1 November 2014. Retrieved 1 November 2014.
  7. ^ "中国探月工程三期再入返回飞行试验获圆满成功". 中国新闻网. 31 October 2014.
  8. ^ "CLunar mission:craft to conduct re-entry tests before 2015". Xinhuanet. 14 December 2013. Archived from the original on 31 October 2015.
  9. ^ "China's Lunar Probe Tester Ready for Chang'e 5 Mission". CRIEnglish News. 11 August 2013. Archived from the original on 19 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Chang'e 5 Test Mission". Spaceflight 101. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  11. ^ "Service module of China's lunar orbiter enters 127-minute orbit - Xinhua | English.news.cn". Archived from the original on 25 January 2015.
  12. ^ "Chang'e 5 Test Mission Updates". Spaceflight 101. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  13. ^ "Chang'e 5-T1". NSSDCA. Retrieved 8 December 2018.
  14. ^ "Chang'e 5 Test Mission Updates". Spaceflight 101. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  15. ^ "The mission". LuxSpace. Archived from the original on 13 September 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  16. ^ "ANS-278 AMSAT News Service Weekly Bulletins". AMSAT News Service. 5 October 2014. Archived from the original on 21 October 2014. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
  17. ^ "天津航天爱好者谈嫦娥五号飞行试验器". Archived from the original on 19 October 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2014.
  18. ^ a b "NASA - NSSDCA - Spacecraft - Details". nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 3 March 2022. The booster used to launch Chang'e 5-T1 went into a highly elliptical Earth orbit after launch. Some calculations show it is on a trajectory to impact the far side of the Moon on March 4, 2022, although China's foreign ministry denied this identification, stating that the booster had already burned up in the Earth's atmosphere. Estimated time of impact for the object is 12:26 UT (7:26 a.m. EST), estimated position at latitude 5.18 N, longitude 233.55 E.
  19. ^ a b "Pseudo-MPEC for 2014-065B = NORAD 40284 = Chang'e 5-T1 booster = lunar impactor on 2022 Mar 04". projectpluto.com. Retrieved 13 February 2022.
  20. ^ Eric Berger (13 February 2022). "Astronomers now say the rocket about to strike the Moon is not a Falcon 9". Ars Technica.
  21. ^ "UArizona students confirm errant rocket's Chinese origin, track lunar collision course". University of Arizona News. 15 February 2022. Retrieved 16 February 2022.
  22. ^ Jones, Andrew (21 February 2022). "China claims rocket stage destined for lunar impact is not from its 2014 moon mission". SpaceNews. Retrieved 21 March 2023. An element of possible confusion remains over which mission Wang referred to on Monday in response to the question about the impending lunar impact from the Associated Press. Both Chinese and English transcripts and Chinese language video of the press conference refer to the "Chang'e-5 mission," rather than the Chang'e-5 T1 mission specifically.
  23. ^ "Moon impact: Chinese rocket stage still in space says U.S. Space Command". SpaceNews. 2 March 2022. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  24. ^ "Jonathan McDowell "In tonight's Space-Track TLEs, analyst object 85900 appears to be the Moon-bound rocket, tracked in a 45785 x 686954 km x 37.0 deg orbit"". Twitter. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  25. ^ Jones, Andrew (21 February 2022). "China claims rocket stage destined for lunar impact is not from its 2014 moon mission". SpaceNews. Retrieved 21 March 2023.
  26. ^ Robinson, Mark (23 June 2022). "Mystery Rocket Body Found!". Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera. Arizona State University. Retrieved 24 October 2022.
  27. ^ @Ramanean (9 February 2023). "Chandraayan2's OHRC has also captured images of the unknown spacecraft impact site (The suspected Chinese rocket crashed into the #Moon on March 4th, 2022)" (Tweet). Retrieved 21 March 2023 – via Twitter.
  28. ^ "First commercial mission to the moon launched from China". Spaceflight Now. 25 October 2014. Retrieved 24 July 2015.
  29. ^ "4M Reception Contest". LuxSpace. Archived from the original on 24 October 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2014.
  30. ^ "China Readies Moon Mission for Launch Next Week". Space.com. 14 October 2014.
  31. ^ "China Poised to Launch Next Moon Mission on Thursday". Space.com. 22 October 2014.
  32. ^ Aron, Jacob (20 October 2014). "China set to launch probe on round trip to the moon". New Scientist. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  33. ^ Barbosa, Rui C. (23 October 2014). "China launches lunar sample return test mission". NASA Space Flight.

External links[edit]