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Chinese eagerly await lunar satellite launch
2007-10-21 23:23:16 Xinhua English

by Xinhua writer Zuo Yuanfeng

BEIJING, Oct. 22 (Xinhua) -- The run-up to the launch of China's first lunar orbiter at the end of this month has caught the country's imagination, with more than two thirds of the nation hoping to see the launch live on TV, according to a survey.

According to the survey by China Youth Daily and www.qq.com, almost the entire nation hopes to catch images of the event at some point, with 99 percent of the 10358 respondents saying they expected to witness the satellite launch and 68.9 percent said they were certain to watch the live broadcast of the launch.

On www.qq.com and www.sina.com, two popular web portals in the country, internet users have contributed some 2,000 poems and 5000 drawings on the theme of Chang'e I.

"The satellite launch means much more than just saying 'hello' to the moon. Maybe in the future we could also send some people to accompany sister 'Chang'e'," said a college student in the survey.

Remarkably, many people expect to visit the moon one day, with 93.4 percent of respondents saying they expected to do so.

Chang'e I is named after Chang'e, a famous character from Chinese mythology. She ascended from earth to live on the moon as a celestial being after drinking an elixir.

There is also another connection between the moon and China. In the 1970s, a crater on the moon was named after a Chinese stargazer, Wan Hu, who is said to be the first astronaut in human history.

Legend says about 600 years ago, around the middle of the Ming Dynasty, Wan Hu, a local government official, tried to fly into space with the help of a chair, two big kites and 47 self-made gunpowder-filled rockets. According to the legend after the rockets were lit there was a huge bang and lots of smoke. When the smoke cleared Wan was nowhere to be found.

China's first astronaut flew into space in 2003 with the launch of the Chinese-made spaceship Shenzhou V. China became the third country, after the Soviet Union and the United States, to carry out manned space missions.

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