The ambitious Chang’e 5 mission offers scientists the first opportunity to study newly obtained lunar material since the American and Russian missions of the 1960s and '70s. Chang’e 5 is named for the Chinese moon goddess.
The four modules of the Chang’e 5 spacecraft are expected to be sent into space Monday aboard a massive Long March-5 rocket from the Wenchang launch center along the coast of the southern island province of Hainan, according to a NASA description of the mission.
The launch window opens at 3:00 p.m. ET Monday, the NASA description says.
The rocket was moved to the launch pad in Wenchang Space Launch Center last week, according to China’s National Space Administration.
China became the first country to successfully land a probe on the far side of the moon when its Chang’e 4 probe reached the lunar surface on Jan. 2, 2019.
In 2013, China became just the third country, after the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union, to successfully “soft land” on the moon when its Chang'e 3 lander reached the lunar surface.
The U.S. is the only country to have placed astronauts on the moon, having last done so in December 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission. Only 12 men, all Americans, have set foot on the moon.
Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia and the Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers