Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lunar Satellite Chang'e 1 (嫦娥一号)Lifts Off

This is definitely the hottest news in China right now. I have seen the footage a million times on various TV channels by now.


Chang'e-1, China's first lunar satellite, was launched at 18:05, Octorber 24th, 2007, in Xichang, Sichuan.

A computer-generated image of the lunar orbiter


The whole event would've been incomplete without quick wit businessmen trying to cash in on the project. One travel agency organized a "launch viewing" special deal where people can pay 800 RMB to observe the launch. Naturally, it was really popular. As this is such a national pride, a lot of people were genuinely interested. One man said he planned the trip well ahead and took leave from work in order to join the tour.

I find it quite cute that the Chinese actually exhibit some rare romanticism with the whole satellite thing. Chang'e, the name of the satellite and the project, was taken from a well-known fairy tale. Chang'e is the Chinese goddess of the moon. She was said to be the empress of a famous archer/emperor, whom she stole the elixir of immortality from. There are many versions of the stories (see wikipedia) but the ending is the same: Chang'e flew to the moon after taking the elixir and lived there ever since. It's really nice to have a romantic element in this otherwise serious project in a very serious country.

Chang'e the Moon Goddess



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