Flying to the moon has been a Chinese dream for thousands of years. With the launch of China's first lunar exploration project -- the Chang'e I-- this ancient desire is coming closer to becoming a modern reality.
This is the Shanghai Astronomical Observatory. The staff are preparing to process data from China's first moon probe project-- the Chang'e I. One of the key scientists directing this part of the process is Professor Ye Shuhua. She has been working at this observatory for nearly half a century. To Ye Shuhua, China's lunar project is exciting news for the country's space industry and a long awaited dream come true.
Ye Shuhua, academician of Shanghai observatory, said, "The moon is much quieter than you need. For our astronomers, the moon is an ideal place to go."
Dreams of flying to the moon has deep roots in Chinese culture. According to an ancient myth, Chang'e was a fairy who took a special potion that gave her the ability to fly to the moon. The dream has already come true for US astronauts. But it will take China at least a decade to land astronauts there.
The Chief Scientist of China's Moon Probe Project, Professor Ouyang Ziyuan, says the significance of a moon-landing... goes beyond the mere observation of our planet.
Ouyang Ziyuan, Chief Scientist of China's Moon Probe Project, said, "The moon's resources, energy and special environment will help to provide support for the long standing sustainable development of mankind. "
China has a gram of lunar soil at the Beijing Planetarium-- given as a gift by former US President Jimmy Carter. The project has promoted public understanding of the space program and people's knowledge of the moon-- especially among the younger generation.
A visitor said, "The Moon is a satellite of the Earth. There are numerous pits on its surface."
Another visitor said, "I think the moon is beautiful, and it's near the to the earth, that's why people want to land on it."
Naturally, the children enjoy learning about science. But for veterans like Ye Shuhua and numerous others, the lunar probe is only the beginning. Witnessing Chinese astronauts making a lunar landing will be another dream come true.
Ye Shuhua said, "Landing on the moon will be a project for today's young people, not for me. But I hope that the day our astronauts land on the moon, I can watch your news reports. "
Han Bin, Shanghai observatory, said, "Chang'e I is a great leap in China's space program. And with the launch of the lunar probe, the ancient Chinese myth of flying to the moon is coming closer to modern reality."