China space mission names personify Chinese romanticism

China.org has announced a news report on the background stories of China´s space mission names, the company said.

Over the past few months, China´s aerospace industry has witnessed many landmark events.
Apart from celebrating these scientific achievements and milestones, the public has also developed a growing interest in the missions´ unique names, of which many are derived from China´s myths and legends.

China´s spacecraft are called Shenzhou. This literally means heavenly ship in Chinese, and is also a homonym for the Chinese words divine land, which is a term used in literary works to refer to the country. China´s moon exploration project and its lunar probe, which made the first-ever soft landing on the far side of the moon, are both named after a Chinese goddess of the moon, Chang´e. According to ancient legends, the goddess lived in solitude on the moon with a rabbit, known as Yutu.

The relay satellite for the Chang´e-4 moon exploration mission is called Queqiao, or magpie bridge. The magpie bridge, in a Chinese folk tale, was formed by millions of magpies, so that a separated couple could meet each other despite the Milky Way. Likewise, the Queqiao relay satellite serves as a space-bridge for communication between the moon and the earth.

The famous spacecraft and rovers built by the United States include the Challenger, the Opportunity and the Spirit, whose names reflect a positive and enterprising spirit. The Chinese name their spacecraft to reflect the Chinese people´s sense of romance and awe for space as well as their efforts to pass down traditional culture and their ancestors´ spirit of scientific discovery.