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China says it has grown the first plants on the Moon as part of its historic mission to the far side.

Images sent back by the probe show a cotton sprout has grown well, but so far none of the other plants has taken, the university said.

"My firm belief is that we should integrate China into the International Space Station program".

But according to the China National Space Administration, there is now life growing 240,000 miles from the Earth; cotton seeds carried on board the Chang'e-4 lunar lander have just sprouted, making them the first plants to ever germinate on another world.

Placed on the Chang'e-4's lander, the mini biosphere, which was developed by scientists at China's Chongqing University, is a sealed, heat-controlled soil, water and air-filled aluminum alloy canister that also contains potato, rapeseed and thale cress seeds, as well as yeast and fruit fly eggs.

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations shared its glee on Twitter, saying, "China's moon mission success means that astronauts could potentially harvest their own food in space!"

It carefully adjusts its descent to avoid ditches and dents as it plummets into the moon's asteroid-battered Von Kármán Crater, which Chang'e-4 landed in on January 2. Chang'e-4 Successful Launch After its successful landing on the moon earlier this month, the Chang'e-4, a lander weighing 1.3 tons, planted potato seeds and placed silkworm eggs in a chamber and are sustained by natural light and nutrition on the moon. The far side is the one that is not seen from the Earth.

State-run China Central Television reported on Tuesday that scientists got a cotton seed to sprout for the first time on the moon.

Chang'e-5 will be followed by three further missions that will explore the barren surface of the Moon and test equipment for an global lunar research base. But the closest that terrestrial vegetation has come to the moon before now was in 1971, when Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa carried hundreds of tree seeds to orbit the moon with him. The probe has taken 170 pictures.

North America hasn't had a decent view of this special scene in at least three years and another total lunar eclipse - which occurs when the entire Moon enters Earth's shadow - isn't expected to happen again until 2021, NASA predicts.