China's Chang'e-6 Launches with a "Stone-Woven" Five-Star Red Flag, Highlighting New Frontiers in the Stone Industry

Jun 10, 2024

BEIJING - In a groundbreaking achievement that underscores China's commitment to lunar exploration and the innovative application of traditional materials, the Chang'e-6 lunar probe recently embarked on its journey to the moon carrying a unique payload: a Five-Star Red Flag fabricated from volcanic basalt fiber. This "stone-woven" flag not only represents a symbolic triumph for China's space program but also signals new horizons for the global stone industry.

The flag, weighing merely 11.3 grams, was meticulously crafted using advanced spinning and weaving techniques developed by researchers at Wuhan Textile University. Its core material, sourced from the county of Weixian in Hebei Province, is a testament to the versatility of basalt, a common volcanic rock transformed into an extraordinary symbol of national pride.


Basalt fibers, renowned for their exceptional strength, heat resistance, and durability, were chosen due to their ability to withstand the harsh lunar environment. The process involved crushing the basalt stone, melting it into a molten state, and then spinning it into ultrafine fibers thinner than a human hair. These fibers were further processed into yarn, woven into fabric, and finally dyed to create the iconic red and yellow hues of China's national flag.


This technological feat is not just a milestone for space exploration; it showcases the potential for the stone industry to contribute to high-tech applications. Basalt, once primarily used in construction and insulation, is now proving its worth in the realm of aerospace, where lightweight yet durable materials are paramount.


"The successful deployment of the basalt fiber flag on the moon's surface is a demonstration of how the integration of traditional industries with cutting-edge technology can lead to revolutionary advancements," commented Professor Zhang Wei, a leading researcher from Wuhan Textile University who was involved in the project. "It opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for the stone industry, pushing the boundaries of what we thought was achievable."


Industry experts believe this innovation could spur the development of novel basalt-based products for extreme environments on Earth, such as deep-sea exploration or high-temperature industrial applications, thereby revitalizing the stone industry sector and fostering sustainable economic growth.


China's Chang'e-6 mission, launched on May 3rd from the Wenchang Space Launch Center aboard a Long March 5B rocket, aims to conduct scientific surveys and collect samples from the unexplored lunar south pole. The inclusion of the stone-woven flag adds a symbolic dimension to this technically challenging endeavor, underlining China's ambition to pioneer not just in space but also in the realms of materials science and engineering.


As the world watches the historic mission unfold, the basalt flag waving proudly on the moon's barren landscape stands as a beacon of human ingenuity and the potential for cross-disciplinary collaboration to redefine the future of both space exploration and earthbound industries.

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