Beijing: China has unfurled its flag on the moon during a space expedition to collect lunar rocks.
The country has now become the second country after the USA to deposit its national flag on the moon’s airless atmosphere.
American astronaut Buzz Aldrin planted the first flag during the manned Apollo 11 mission in 1969 and the US left five more flags there in subsequent missions until 1972.
The communist nation’s mission was not manned by astronauts so the distinctive red flag was unfurled by the Chang’e-5 lander vehicle before taking off to return to earth.
The state-run Global Times newspaper said the milestone was a reminder of the “excitement and inspiration” felt during the US Apollo missions.
China’s Chang’e 5 space module left the moon this week after completing its mission to gather 2kg of rock lunar samples.
It is the first time in 44 years moon samples have been brought back to earth and researchers hope it will provide new information about the volcanic activity of the moon.
China’s ambitious space program also includes building its own space station by 2022 and sending an exploration mission to Jupiter by 2029.
Reports say the Chinese spacecraft will collect at least two kilograms of Moon samples from the area known as “Ocean of Storms”. “Scientific detection was carried out as planned,” China’s space agency said.
The samples are expected to arrive in a capsule in China’s Inner Mongolia region.