Main Engine Cut Off

Long March 5 Rolled Out for Chang’e-5, China’s Lunar Sample Return Mission

Andrew Jones, for SpaceNews, with a great article on the preparation for and timeline of the mission to Oceanus Procellarum:

Launch of the 8.2-metric-ton Chang’e-5 spacecraft from the coastal Wenchang Satellite Launch Center is now expected Nov. 24 local time. State media reports have so far only confirmed the launch will take place in late November.

Sunrise over Mons Rümker will occur November 27, ahead of the landing attempt. The mission seeks to collect around 2 kilograms of samples by both drilling to a depth of up to two meters and scooping up surface material.

Chang’e-5 culminates with the samples returned to Earth sometime around December 16–17. I’ll be happily surprised if we get official coverage of the mission, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Either way, make sure you follow Andrew on Twitter, as he is the best source for Chinese space coverage. Don’t take my word for it: check out this thread on the mission timeline.