China's Chang'e-5 probe is preparing for a soft landing on the moon to undertake the country's first collection of samples from an extraterrestrial body.
The lander-ascender combination of the spacecraft separated from its orbiter-returner combination at 4:40 a.m. Monday (Beijing Time), according to the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
Launched on Nov. 24, Chang'e-5 is one of the most complicated and challenging missions in China's aerospace history, as well as the world's first moon-sample mission for more than 40 years.
The spacecraft is performing well and communication with ground control is normal, CNSA said.
The lander-ascender combination will execute a soft landing on the moon and carry out automatic sampling. The orbiter-returner will continue orbiting about 200 km above the lunar surface and wait for rendezvous and docking with the ascender.