China becomes second country to put national flag on moon

Katie Ramirez
January 21, 2021

The Chang'e-5 spacecraft, named after the mythical Chinese Moon goddess, left the Moon at 1510 GMT Thursday, said China's space agency.

A China National Space Administration graphic showing blast-off of the sampling capsule from the Chang'e-5 lunar lander from the moon's Oceanus Procellarum.

- The ascender of China's Chang'e-5 probe, carrying lunar samples, completes the country's first-ever takeoff from an extraterrestrial body.

This is the first time Chinese spacecraft have carried out rendezvous and docking in lunar orbit.

"Human mission to Mars will be even more demanding and challenging than our lunar operations, which is why it's so critical to learn from our experiences on the Moon and apply those lessons to Mars", Gold said.

"The precedent is a very important part of what we're doing today", said Mike Gold, NASA's acting associate administrator for worldwide and interagency relations. The lunar landing site's basaltic rocks are thought to have been formed 1.2 billion years ago, which is relatively recent in geological terms. The moon rocks and debris were sealed inside a special canister to avoid contamination.

"An ordinary national flag on Earth would not survive the severe lunar environment", CASIC team member Chang Cheng told the Global Times.

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It wasn't clear when the linkup would occur.

To do that, NASA says it needs its astronauts, like the western pioneers, to "live off the land", using the resources in space instead of hauling them from Earth.

Chinese mission that landed on Moon has transferred rocks to an orbiter which is due to land in northern grasslands in Inner Mongolia region in mid-December.

NASA bought the rights to four batches of future moon samples as part of its low-priced lunar resource collection programme, paying just $25,000 in total.

Although its main task was to retrieve the samples, the lander was equipped to take detailed photographs of the landscape and to analyze ground conditions by radar penetrating below the surface and lunar soil analysis for minerals and water contents below the surface. Plans call for a permanent space station after 2022, possibly to be serviced by a reusable space plane.

Although no deadline has been proposed for such projects, Song 5 has updated China's talk of sending astronauts to the moon one day and building a scientific base there.

While China is boosting co-operation with the European Space Agency and others, interactions with NASA are severely limited by USA concerns over the secretive nature and close military links of the Chinese program.

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