China Plants Flag On The Moon
A Chinese flag has been planted on the moon after the country completed a space probe to the surface of the Moon, an ambitious effort to bring back the first lunar samples in four decades.
Beijing is looking to catch up with the US and Russia after taking decades to match its rivals’ achievements and has poured billions into its military-run space programme.
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 module carrying lunar rocks and soil was launched into orbit by a powerful thrust engine, officials said of the mission that landed Tuesday on the Moon.
Video footage from China’s state broadcaster CCTV showed the probe taking off from the surface of the Moon in a bright burst of light.
The space agency said that “before lift-off, the Chinese flag was raised on the moon’s surface”.
It added that this was the first time that China had achieved take-off from an extraterrestrial body.
The module then must undergo the delicate operation of linking up with the part of the spacecraft that is to bring the specimens back to Earth, official news agency Xinhua reported.
Scientists hope the samples will help them learn about the Moon’s origins, formation and volcanic activity on its surface.
If the return journey is successful, China will be only the third country to have retrieved samples from the Moon, following the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s and 1970s.