China’s Spacecraft Crash on the Moon to avoid adding Space Junk
The Chinese Space Agency (CNSA) Chang’e 5 spacecraft crashed into the Moon. Surprisingly, for someone who hasn’t followed the mission, CNSA has announced that part of their moon mission will be a success after the accident. In an attempt to prevent cluttering space with yet more bits of orbital debris, the Chinese Space Agency crashed half of its Chang’e-5 spacecraft into the Ground.
The country’s space agency smashed its lander into the Moon so it would not slip into an orbital trajectory. The explanation for this, the South China Morning Post states, is that China has gone a long way to avoid contributing to the growing issue of man-made space trash with its Chang’e 5 mission. The Chang’e-5 spacecraft is now on its way back to Earth after scooping up samples of lunar rock and dust, but the South China Morning Post notes that certain components have been ordered to crash back into the Moon—because a lunar resting place is better for future missions than leaving junk in space.
The Chinese space agency instructed part of the Chang’e-5 spacecraft to crash back into the Moon after its job was done so it wouldn’t become space junk.
The Chang’e-5 ascent spacecraft, which transported the lunar samples from the Moon to the orbiter waiting to carry them home, would not have a return journey of its own. Instead, SpaceNews records that it was told to go back to the Moon on Monday when the orbiter returned to Earth.
This is because making a lander resting on the surface of the Moon is better than leaving it in space where it might theoretically hinder future missions.
“This is an important pledge made by China as a responsible major country, towards the peaceful exploration and utilization of space by humans,” the Chinese National Space Administration said to SCMP.
“This is an important commitment made by China, as a responsible major country, to the peaceful exploration and utilization of space by humans,” the Chinese National Space Administration said to SCMP.
Experts have been looking for ways to eliminate garbage from space for years, and earlier this year there were some high-profile near-misses in orbit.
Closer to Land, spacecraft and space stations may be removed by taking them down to Earth, where they disintegrate in the upper atmosphere or drift safely into the ocean. But that’s less realistic all the way out by the Moon. Instead, China has determined that starting a cemetery on the Moon itself is a better choice.
Several high-profile near-misses have occurred in orbit this year, sparking revived efforts to remove the rapidly accumulating space debris from orbit. Nearer Earth, space agencies will carry retired satellites down to Earth to burn back into the atmosphere. However, near the Moon, this would be a less practical solution.