China has successfully unfurled its national flag on the lunar surface with the moon landing of the Chang’e 5 space probe. The last attempt to do so was half a century ago when America’s Apollo program planted six US flags after each moon landing mission.
The photo from CNSA shows the Chinese flag standing on the lunar surface, smooth and still, in comparison to the well-known photo of the wrinkled, seemingly flapping American flag on the moon.
Director of the flag display project said normal flags made on earth won’t be able to sustain the strong cosmic radiation and extreme temperature changes on the moon, which would cause colors to fade, blend and even resolve.
After tests, researchers determined that reeling out the flag was the best way to keep the flag smooth and free from wrinkles. But the flag needs to be strong enough to hold its shape.
Chang Cheng, the person in charge of the flag display, said the technical team spent more than a year selecting the flag materials. The team ran tests on more than 30 fiber materials, and decided on a new type of compound material that is strong enough to keep smooth and holds colors well. The team also had to make sure the material doesn’t stick together when the flag is furled under extreme temperature changes.
“It is a real flag,” said Wei Ma, director of flag display project. “As thin as it is, the flag is very technologically advanced.”