Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chuying tweeted pictures of the country’s flag being planted on the moon, while wishing the Chang5 ship a safe return.
Chang 5’s unmanned mission is the latest in a series that includes a Chinese lunar exploration program. For the first time since the Soviet Union in the 1970s, a spacecraft set out with lunar rocks as it attempted to return samples of the moon.
NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen congratulated China on landing on Tuesday.
“Congratulations to China on the successful launch of Chang 5,” Subuchen tweeted.
The tweet continued: “This is not an easy task. We hope that when samples collected on the moon are returned to Earth, everyone will benefit if the international scientific community can learn about this valuable commodity that can be carried forward.”
NASA tweeted in November that it expects China to share data with the global scientific community to enhance our understanding of the moon as much as our Apollo missions. [sic] Artemis will program. “
The return module of Changzhou 5 will touch the grasslands of Inner Mongolia by mid-December, when Chinese manned Shenzhou spacecraft return after China first launched a man into space in 2003. China is the third country to launch a man in space, following in the footsteps of Russia and the United States.
Although no timeline has been proposed for such projects, Chang 5’s mission has revived discussions that China will send a crude mission to the moon and build a scientific base there.
China launched the first temporary orbital laboratory in 2011 and the second in 2016. Plans are in place for a permanent space station after 2022, perhaps to be serviced on a reusable spacecraft.
As China enhances cooperation with the European Space Agency and others, its interactions with NASA have been severely limited due to the secretive nature of China’s space program and its close ties with the country’s military.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.