China Becomes Second Ever Country To Plant Its Flag On The Moon
More than 50 years after America planted its flag on the moon, China has done so as well.
China didn’t have its own Buzz Aldrin to put it there though; theirs was placed on the moon by an ascent vehicle.
The Chang’e 5’s ascent vehicle touched down on the moon’s surface on Tuesday, December 1, to collect four pounds of rocks and bring them back to Earth.
During its visit, the vehicle popped China’s flag there before making its way back to Earth. The Chang’e-5 began its journey back yesterday, December 4.
The return of the samples will be the first time in over 40 years that this has been done, reports BBC News. The last ones to do so were the Soviets in 1976.
China first planted its flag on the moon back in 2013 during its first lunar landing mission of Chang’e-3. The Chang’e-4 lander also placed the country’s flag on the dark side of the moon last year after landing on the unvisited region of the planet.
China Space Sanjiang Group under the State-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation hope that the flag will keep its vibrant, red colour as its research team spent over a year choosing the right materials for it.
The flag must survive under extreme coldness and heat, something which other flags planted on the moon have failed to do. According to the Global Times, five of the six flags placed on the planet in the late 1960s and early 1970s during six US crewed moon landings are still standing but have been bleached white due to solar radiation.
To collect the recent samples currently on their way back to Earth, the lander dug six feet down into the moon’s surface to collect the samples as well as photographing the surrounding area and used ground-penetrating radar to check for minerals and water.
Discussing the recent mission with the Global Times, chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge magazine Wang Ya’nan said:
This is the first attempt in China’s aerospace history to lift off from a celestial body other than Earth. The launch is a major test, in that the vehicle had to rely entirely on automatic maneuvers without any ground command.
Wang also explained why the launch on the moon couldn’t afford to be delayed saying, ‘If the probe receives a command from the Earth to help it control the separation, altitude and speed, there will be at least one second delay, which will put the process in great danger.’
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