China plants flag on moon
China has planted a flag on the moon, the BBC reported, citing state-run media, following the country’s trip to the lunar surface this week.
An image released by China’s National Space Administration apparently shows the Chinese national flag on the moon’s surface.
The state-run Global Times newspaper said the photo was taken on board the Chang’e-5 lander vehicle before the ascender took off from the moon.
The Chinese outlet said the spacecraft “unfolded the five-star red national flag, a genuine one made from fabrics.”
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying also shared images of the national flag on the moon.
Proud to have our national flag unfolded on the moon. The #Change5 probe collected samples and took off from moon. It will contribute to global scientific studies in fields such as the formation and evolution of the moon. pic.twitter.com/1UJskx3d9s
— Mission of China (@ChinaEUMission) December 4, 2020
Two previous Chinese lunar missions had flags on the crafts’ coatings, the Global Times noted, rather than actual flags on poles.
The Chinese flag was first seen on the moon during the country’s inaugural lunar mission, Chang’e-3, in 2013, the newspaper noted. In 2019, the Chang’e-4 lander and rover brought the flag to an unvisited part of the moon.
Project leader Li Yunfeng told the Global Times that the system used to erect the flag was given features such as protection from drastic temperature differences.
“An ordinary national flag on Earth would not survive the severe lunar environment,” Cheng Chang, a project developer, told the state-run newspaper.
NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen congratulated China on its lunar landing earlier this week.
“This is no easy task. When the samples collected on the Moon are returned to Earth, we hope everyone will benefit from being able to study this precious cargo that could advance the international science community,” he tweeted.
Congratulations to China on the successful landing of Chang’e 5. This is no easy task. When the samples collected on the Moon are returned to Earth, we hope everyone will benefit from being able to study this precious cargo that could advance the international science community. pic.twitter.com/2xoKouf3dq
— Thomas Zurbuchen (@Dr_ThomasZ) December 1, 2020
The U.S. was the first country to plant a flag on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Five other flags were planted in subsequent missions until 1972.
NASA cited satellite images as showing five of the flags still standing in 2012, but experts have said they were likely bleached white by the sun’s glare.
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin has said that the first flag was placed too close to the Apollo lunar module and was likely blown away when it blasted off.
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