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China Announces the Names of Its Crewed Lunar Space Vehicles

The China National Space Administration has announced the names of the vehicles that they are readying for their manned mission to the Moon. 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 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. According to mission planners, the Lanyue lunar lander will have two parts, a landing section and a propulsion section, and will weigh nearly 26 tons. It will accommodate two astronauts and a 200-kilogram rover.

The name of the new crew ship is Mengzhou, or Dream Vessel. There will be two variants of this, one to transport astronauts to the Moon, and the other will replace the Shenzhou and will be used to transport astronauts from the Earth to the Tiangong space station. The Mengzhou lunar spacecraft will consist of two major components—a reentry module that will house astronauts and serve as the control center for the entire craft during spaceflight, and a service module that will contain power and propulsion systems. The vehicle will be nearly 9 meters in length, 4.5 meters in diameter and weigh 22 metric tons.

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