Thursday, 26 April 2018


Like its counterpart Apollo, the Chinese lunar exploration programme has a divine namesake and their space agency has presented an ambitious plan to turn a bit of lore into reality with its aim to construct a “palace” near the Moon’s south pole by 2030. The lunar base or rather tubular palace is in reference to the abode of the immortal Chang’e (嫦娥)—a rather reluctant goddess, who had divinity thrust upon her, estranging her from her mortal husband.
In the distant past, ten suns came to dominate the skies and threatened to scorch the Earth, but the heroic archer Yi shot down all but one, saving the planet. As reward, the gods gave Yi a single portion of the elixir of life, which would render the imbiber undying. Yi didn’t want to live forever if he could not be with his beloved wife Chang’e, so hid the potion. One of the archer’s apprentices, however, attacked Chang’e while her husband was out hunting and tried to force her to give him the elixir, and overpowered, Chang’e escaped by the only means she had—drinking the potion herself. Instead of allowing herself to ascend to the highest heaven in the company of the other gods, Chang’e settled on the Moon to be as close to her husband as possible. Inconsolable, her only companion for the past four millennia has been a white rabbit Yutu—which was the name of the rover vehicle that was delivered to the Moon’s surface by the mission Chang’e 3 when mankind returned to the satellite for the first time in nearly four decades in December of 2013. Read more about the programme at the link up top.