China claims ‘space superpower’ status with moon launch

China’s Chang’e-5 lunar exploration mission took off on Tuesday, the first leg of what Chinese space scientists are calling a “very long and even perilous walk” to land on the moon and bring back samples from the lunar surface.

The early morning launch from Wenchang Cosmodrome off the southern seaside island of Hainan was broadcast live by China Central Television.

CCTV and other state media were quick to assert that with the smooth take-off of a Long March-5 heavy transport rocket, China has joined the elite ranks of the former Union. Soviet Union and the United States as a “space superpower” capable of returning extraterrestrial objects to Earth.

“The world has not seen new lunar samples for more than four decades, and now is the time for China to end mankind’s lull in lunar exploration and research, not just to let China’s footprint on Earth’s natural satellite, but also to bring some of it to Earth, with samples of moon rocks, soil and regolith available for the global scientific community to study, ”reads -on in a People’s Daily editorial.

Tuesday’s successful take-off was broadcast live on CCTV and watched by many Chinese despite the early morning timing. Photo: Xinhua

The Communist Party spokesman quoted Pei Zhaoyu, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration and Space Program Center of China’s National Space Administration, as saying that the Chang’e-5 mission was also proof that China was almost able to send taikonauts (Chinese astronauts) to the moon and bring them back safely to Earth.

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