China unveils names of manned lunar lander and new spaceship crew


File picture of China's first moon rover "Jade Rabbit" touching the lunar surface. - Xinhua via AP

BEIJING: According to a news release from the China Manned Space Agency, the lunar lander that will carry Chinese astronauts to the moon's surface is named Lanyue, or Embracing the Moon, which first appeared in a poem written by the late Chairman Mao Zedong in 1965.

The word "Lanyue" symbolizes the Chinese people's aspiration and confidence in their exploration of the universe and expedition to the moon, it said.

The name of the new crew spaceship is Mengzhou, or Dream Vessel, which represents its responsibility of fulfilling the Chinese nation's dream of landing on the moon to start a new journey of space adventure, according to the agency.

It noted that there will be two models of the Mengzhou - one will be used to transport astronauts to the moon while another will replace the current spaceship Shenzhou to ferry crew members between Earth and the Tiangong space station, which has been orbiting around the Earth for nearly three years.

The names were picked by a group of experts from nearly 2,000 proposals solicited from the public.

Currently, the research and development of the Lanyue, the Mengzhou and a super-heavy-lift carrier rocket named Long March 10 have been progressing well, according to the release.

China has announced its plan of conducting its first manned mission to the moon around 2030.

According to mission planners, the Lanyue lunar lander will have two parts - a landing section and a propulsion section, and will weigh nearly 26 tonnes. It will accommodate two astronauts and a 200-kilogramme rover.

The Mengzhou spacecraft will also consist of two major components - a reentry module that will house astronauts and serve as the control centre for the entire craft during spaceflight, and a service module that will contain power and propulsion systems. The vehicle will be nearly 9 metres in length, 4.5 metres in diameter and weigh 22 metric tonnes. - China Daily/ANN

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