China reveals ambitious names for new-gen manned spacecraft, lunar lander; crewed moon landing expected by 2030
Published: Feb 24, 2024 01:09 PM
Photo: CCTV

Photo: CCTV

Upon the occasion of the Lantern Festival which falls on the first full moon of the Chinese New Year, China Manned Space Agency revealed on Saturday the romantic yet ambitious names for the country's new-generation manned spacecraft - Mengzhou, meaning "dream boat," as well as the lunar lander - Lanyue, meaning "clasp the moon," that are to be tasked with future explorations on the moon.

According to the plan, China aims to send taikonauts to the moon by 2030. Currently, the Mengzhou spacecraft, the Lanyue lander, and the new-generation manned launch vehicle the Long March-10 have all entered preliminary development stage, with development proceeding smoothly.

Mengzhou symbolizes carrying the space exploration dreams of the Chinese people to the moon, and reflects the legacy with the Shenzhou and Tianzhou spacecraft families. The new generation of manned spacecraft includes a lunar version and a near-Earth version for future space station missions, with the lunar version being named the MengzhouY series. 

Lanyue is derived from late Chinese leader Mao Zedong's poem expressing his admiration and wonder for space, "We can clasp the moon in the Ninth Heaven." The ambitious name showcased the grandeur and confidence of the Chinese people in exploring the universe. 

As disclosed by the agency, two Long March-10 carrier rockets will sequentially send the Lanyue lander and the Mengzhou craft to the Earth-Moon transfer orbit.

The two spacecraft will rendezvous and dock in lunar orbit, with taikonauts entering the lander and then being transported to the lunar surface. 

After completing scientific exploration tasks and sample collection on the moon, they will return to the lunar orbit aboard the lander, where the two spacecraft will rendezvous and dock again, where the taikonauts will shift vehicle and transfer the lunar samples before returning to Earth, Ji Qiming, spokesperson for the agency revealed to the China Central Television (CCTV).

Currently, the manned lunar exploration project is being implemented in stages, including scheme development, prototype development, unmanned flight tests, and manned lunar flight missions. China has already completed key technological breakthroughs and scheme development by the end of 2023, Ji noted. 

The Long March-10 rocket, Mengzhou spacecraft and Lanyue lander have all entered their prototype development stage, R&D, production, and ground testing, which are progressing in an orderly manner.

In addition, various test launch facilities and equipment at the Wenchang launch site have also started construction. 

Upon the completion of construction of the Chinese space station, landing on the moon has become the next priority for Chinese space exploration. 

In August 2023, the China Manned Space Agency launched a public solicitation for the names of the spacecraft for manned lunar missions, which attracted enthusiastic response from people of all walks of life to participate. A total of nearly 2,000 submissions were received from organizations and individuals across various fields.

Global Times