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Mission accomplished, now on to the next: China Daily editorial | Updated: 2020-12-17 20:35
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A graphic simulation shows the orbiter and returner combination of China's Chang'e-5 probe after its separation from the ascender. [Photo/CNSA]

The Chang'e 5 lunar mission has been declared a complete success after the reentry capsule carrying rock and soil samples from the moon landed safely in the designated area early on Thursday.

Congratulations to all those who have participated in and contributed to this groundbreaking accomplishment. This is no doubt a solid step forward for the indigenous space industry, and potentially of great significance internationally.

During the mission, Chang'e 5 accomplished a series of firsts for the country's space program — first collecting of samples from the moon, takeoff from surface of the moon, docking in lunar orbit, and returning with samples — and the spacecraft's return marked the first time scientists have obtained fresh samples of lunar rocks since 1976. It has put the perfect finishing touch to the Chinese lunar exploration trilogy of "orbiting, landing, returning".

Meanwhile, as the most complicated systems engineering ever attempted by the domestic space industry, it has reportedly achieved a series of key technological innovations and breakthroughs that will greatly facilitate future lunar and interstellar missions.

It was therefore a mission of milestone significance, one that represented "a great step forward for China's space industry", as President Xi Jinping said in a statement read out at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center. Industry insiders say it is comparable to that of the country's 1970 success in sending its first-ever man-made satellite into space, which announced the dawn of the space age in China. The Chang'e 5 mission means China has laid a solid foundation for the country's future plans for a permanent space station, manned missions to the moon and even Mars. Multiple interstellar missions have already been planned for the next decade.

More interestingly, industry sources have disclosed that the planned Chinese lunar research station, which is a major goal of future Chinese lunar exploration, will be built "in an open and cooperative manner". The proposal has reportedly received positive responses from a number of countries and international organizations. This shows Chinese space industry's development is turning from independent indigenous endeavors to "all-around opening-up and cooperation".

Speaking of lessons to be learned, while once again showing that the centralized mobilization mechanisms can harness the necessary resources, at the end of the day, it is about perseverance paying dividends. Everything would have been just castles in the air had it not been down-to-earth, no-nonsense, step-by-step approach generations of space industry workers have demonstrated for decades.

It didn't matter to them this had been done more than four decades back by others. They knew the country had to blaze its own trail in order to catch up.

More than anything else, it is that perseverance that has won the space industry the solid standing it can now take pride in.

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