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What will happen to the Chang’e 5 orbiter which will return the collected samples to earth? Will it burn up in the atmosphere like Hayabusa, or is an extented mission planned?

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  • $\begingroup$ There are something like four separate spacecraft in one here, so this will be quite an interesting mission to follow! Here are two pretty good animations: youtu.be/waF2pzTGX4I and even better youtu.be/xMet268iaKc $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 24 '20 at 20:28
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Neither NASA nor Xinhua news, in their detailed descriptions of the overall mission, mention any role for the orbiter after the returner separates from it in Earth orbit to land.

Any extended mission for the orbiter that requires equipment beyond what is needed to retrieve Lunar samples would have eaten into the payload budget and probably reduced the size of the sample. So it seems safe to assume that the mission planners chose to maximize prestige, which comes from hauling rocks back. The orbiter may fly for some time afterwards, but as little more than a beeping Sputnik.

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