New data from satellite trackers now suggests Chang’e-5 has left its orbit around Sun-Earth L1 and is destined for a lunar flyby early September 9 Eastern time. It was noted that Chang’e-5 may have altered its orbit Aug. BACC has not yet provided an update on the plans for Chang’e-5. Potential maneuvers such as entering lunar orbit, heading for another Sun-Earth Lagrange point or an Earth-moon Lagrange point depend on how much propellant the orbiter has remaining.
Another possibility could be using the flyby to set Chang’e-5 on a trajectory to flyby 469219 Kamoʻoalewa, a quasi-satellite of Earth and the target for China’s 2024 near Earth asteroid sample-return mission. Jing Peng, deputy chief designer of the Chang’e-5 spacecraft system at the China Academy of Space Technology , said during the Global Space Exploration conference in St. Samples collected by the Chang’e-5 lander from near Mons Rümker in Oceanus Procellarum in the northwest of the near side of the moon are now being analyzed. NASA currently has no plans to trade any of its Apollo-era lunar samples with those returned by China’s Chang’e-5 mission, although the agency’s chief scientist Jim Green expressed hope for such an exchange in the future. China is planning a followup lunar sample-return, Chang’e-6, in 2024 which is nominally part of the joint China-Russia International Lunar Research Station.