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Mooncake, festival and China's lunar mission

(China Daily)    19:42, September 14, 2016

Humans are adventurous creatures on the earth with lots of imagination.

While all creatures live around each other with gravity holding them to the ground, humans look up to the sky and wonder about the moon.

Mooncake, festival and China's lunar mission

  Apollo 11. [Photo from web]

First man to visit moon

US was the first country to send humans to the moon.

The Apollo Project, an enormous plan launched by the US from 1961 to 1972, helped take tens of thousands of close-up images of moon and delivered three astronauts on the moon by spaceflight Apollo 11.

The country later sent more astronauts; with 12 in total having the chance to view the earth from another planet.

At the same period, the Soviet Union was competing against the US on exploring the outerspace and completed the whole program with sending first man--Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin-- into space, some satellites and bringing back lunar samples.

Compared with two nations, China has been a bit quiet in the space arena. But that doesn't mean it's not interested in the beautiful planet hanging over us during the night.

China's first satellite Dongfanghong-1. [Photo/Xinhua] 

China's first satellite

Historical records show that way back at the end of 14th century, Wanhu, a scholar during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1683), was thinking about sending people into the sky by rockets.

He tied 47 self-made rockets on a chair, sat on the chair and held a big kite, expecting rockets to push him and the kite into the air to balance him for landing.

It didn't work out, of course, but his bold move inspired people to research the field more.

A milestone in the space field that truly excited all the Chinese was when the nation successfully launched its first man-made earth satellite on April 24, 1970.

The 173 kg satellite broadcast the then-popular song "Dongfanghong", which was picked up by the ground receivers and broadcast via the radio station to around the world.

The myth about the moon

From ancient times, China has stories about the sky and the moon. The myths are so old that they can be found in many ancient classic poems.

It is said there were 10 suns in the sky that made people's lives hard. Houyi, a heroic and strong man, shot down nine of them and forced the last one to rise and fall on time, benefiting all the people.

He later married Chang'e and taught people archery for a living.

Once he acquired pills that could turn humans into god and give them eternal life from goddess Wangmuniangniang. But Houyi gave them to Chang'e to keep them as he didn't want to leave his beautiful kind wife.

However, one of his students found out about them and asked Chang'e to hand them over when Houyi was out.

Chang'e had no option but to swallow the pills. She suddenly started floating up until she reached the moon.

Houyi came back home and heard the story from the maids. He was saddened but couldn't do anything. He missed his wife so much that he asked his maids to display fresh fruits and cakes that Chang'e loved on the table in the garden in her memory.

Many people began setting tables and offerings wishing luck from Chang'e after they heard that she had turned into a goddess on the moon.

Chang'e lived on the moon, accompanied by a rabbit, white as jade, who kept making medicine that could make humans immortal.

The offering ceremony has been widely spread among people, becoming a well-known Chinese festival--Mid Autumn Festival.

The interesting thing is that we can now understand many names of China's space equipment: Shenzhou, Tiangong, Chang'e and Yutu--they are all heavily associated with China's myths about the sky and moon.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Zhang Tianrui, Bianji)

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