China successfully lands on the Moon ahead of pioneering plan to bring pieces of it back to Earth

China says it has successfully landed on the Moon as part of a plan to bring pieces of the lunar surface back to Earth.

If the rest of the mission goes to plan, it will represent the first time that Moon rocks have been brought to our planet for more than 40 years, as part of the Apollo missions.

Chinese state media said that the Chang’e 5 spacecraft “successfully landed on the moon in the pre-selected landing area”, and cited space officials.

It did not give any further information about the landing or the mission, in keeping with relative quiet from official Chinese sources about its space missions.

The new spacecraft follows Chang’e 4, which arrived at the Moon’s far side almost exactly two years ago. That was the first ever mission to successfully achieve a “soft landing” on the distant lunar surface, and was hailed by China as a success.

It hopes that the trips to the Moon will eventually culminate in a mission to land a person on the Moon. Only the US has landed a human on the lunar surface, and it has not happened since 1972.

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