A Chinese spacecraft service module has arrived in orbit around the lunar surface, after being extensively used for months in China’s landmark test flight that also sent a return capsule to Earth after a flight around the moon.
The service module from China’s first test flight that was planned to orbit the moon, entered orbit around the moon this week, according to Chinese national media.
At present the craft is flying in an eight hour orbit around the moon which would take it to within 125 miles of the lunar surface at the closest point and out to a range of 3,293 miles at the highest point.
Chief engineer Zhou Jianlian of Beijing Aerospace Control Center said that the module will be making its second and third braking in the early hours of 12th January and tomorrow, Beijing time. This shall enable the module to enter a 127 minute orbit around the moon.
There have been reports that a camera system has been mounted on board the service module in order to identify possible landing spots for the future Chang’e 5 mission that will bring back lunar samples to Earth via a robot.