Why China Intentionally Crashed the Chang'e 5 Moon Lander

The Chang'e 5 ascent vehicle was instructed to crash back into the Moon on Monday by the CNSA.
Chris Young
The Chang'e-5 ascent vehicleCNSA

The Chinese space agency's (CNSA) Chang'e 5 spacecraft crashed into the Moon on Monday. Surprisingly, for anyone, who hasn't been following the mission, CNSA announced that part of their moon mission a success following the crash.

The reason for this, the South China Morning Post reports, is that China has gone to great lengths to avoid adding to the growing problem of manmade space junk with their Chang'e 5 mission.

The country's space organization crashed its lander into the Moon so it wouldn't fall into an orbital trajectory.


The Chang'e 5 mission team's 'important pledge'

The Chang'e 5 mission is already on its way back to Earth after scooping samples of lunar rock and soil from the Moon. However, as the South China Morning Post reports, the lunar lander, or ascent vehicle, was instructed to crash into the Moon. 

This is due to the fact that having the lander resting on the surface of the Moon is safer than leaving it in orbit where it could potentially obstruct 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 China National Space Administration told SCMP.

The growing problem of space debris

As Futurism reports, there have been several high-profile near-misses in orbit this year prompting renewed calls to find a way to clear the increasingly accumulating space debris from orbit.

Nearer Earth, space organizations can bring retired satellites down to Earth to burn up on re-entry into the atmosphere. However, near the Moon, this would be a less practical solution.

Could the solution for the future be to add to the lunar tech graveyard started by China with the Chang'e 5 mission? For now, it's definitely the safer option. With an influx of future missions such as NASA's Project Artemis on their way, however, a more elegant solution will likely be in the works.

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