China has just launched its Chang'e-5 lunar probe. The new change is the current endeavor that may more widely boost human understanding of the moon and the solar system.
The main goal of the project is to dig 2 meters (almost 7 feet) under the surface of the moon and suck up, according to NASA, around 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) of rocks and other particles to be carried back to Earth.
The Chang'e-5 mission is expected to realize four "firsts" in China's space history: the first time for a probe to take off from the surface of the Moon; the first time to automatically sample the lunar surface; the first time to conduct unmanned rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit; and the first time to return to Earth with lunar soil samples in escape velocity.
The sixth mission in the Chang'e program, China's 8.2-metric ton Chang'e 5 has four components; an orbiter, lander, ascender and re-entry module.
Minutes after liftoff, the spacecraft separated from the rocket's first and second stages and slipped into Earth-moon transfer orbit.
The spacecraft's time on the moon will be limited to about 14 Earth days.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) called the launch a success and said in a statement the rocket flew for almost 37 minutes before sending the spacecraft on its intended trajectory.
A Chinese Long March 5 heavy lift booster ascends an ambitious lunar model return spacecraft from the Wensang Satellite Launch Center on Hainan Island in the South China Sea. That would have the first chance for scientists since the American and Russian missions of the 1960s and 1970s to research freshly acquired lunar material.
Chang'e 5 will go into orbit when it arrives at the Moon, its lander will then detach and go on a powered descent.
But even before the latest lunar mission lifted off before dawn Tuesday, a top program official maintained that China isn't competing with anyone. The materials will then be moved to the return capsule to be hauled back to Earth.
"Chang'e 5 will collect samples from a different region of the Moon which makes it very valuable", Frédéric Moynier of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris told RFI.
In particular, the ability to collect samples from space is growing in value, said Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
China's National Space Administration is poised to change that.
Under President Xi Jinping, plans for China's "space dream", as he calls it, have been put into overdrive.
The Chinese space agency's previous mission, Chang'e 4, successfully landed a lunar rover on the far side of the Moon, marking the first-ever time a space agency has managed to do so, per the BBC.
While the USA has followed China's successes closely, it's unlikely to expand cooperation with China in space amid political suspicions, a sharpening military rivalry and accusations of Chinese theft of technology, experts say.
Other countries are also forging ahead, underscored by the dramatic landing of America's Curiosity Mars rover in 2012 and the return to Earth next month of Japan's explorer Hayabusa2 with samples collected from the asteroid Ryugu. Once it begins orbiting the Red Planet, an explorer will attempt to land on Mars to collect data on the planet's surface and search for signs of water.