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Chinese Moon Goddess: Chang'e
Chinese Moon Goddess: Chang'e (click to enlarge)

Chinese Moon Goddess: Chang'e

China's first unmanned missions to the moon are named in honor of Chang'e, a Chinese goddess who legends say lives on the moon and was befriended by a rabbit.

Chang'e was mentioned in a conversation between Houston and the Apollo 11 crew before the first Moon landing in 1969:

Houston: Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, there's one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o has been living there for 4,000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported.

Chang-O is also spelled Ch'ang O and, in the more modern rendition, Chang'e.

Buzz Aldrin: Okay. We'll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl.

Apollo 11 Technical Air-to-Ground Voice Transcription (PDF, 1.87 MB)

Credit: Shi Yu (Wikimedia Commons)

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Last Updated: 15 Jul 2013