The Name Shenzhou Spacecraft in Chinese/Japanese on a Personalized Wall Scroll.

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Shenzhou Spacecraft

shén zhōu
Shenzhou Spacecraft Scroll

神舟 is the name of the Chinese spacecraft “Shenzhou.” The name means “divine craft” or “saintly vessel.”

The name is a play on words in Chinese, as there is an alternate name for China that is pronounced “Shenzhou” but means “Divine land” or “Land of the Gods” (just the second character is different).

The first flight of a Shenzhou spacecraft was in 1999, with more missions following. The next is planned for 2008, and will include China's first “spacewalk.” The tenth Shenzhou mission is planned for 2015, when China has promised its people that a Chinese astronaut will walk on the moon (or at least orbit the moon - there are two ways to interpret the announcement made in 2005).

For those of you concerned, this word is pronounced more like “Shen Joe” (with a slightly soft “J”) than the Romanization would suggest.


2016 Update: I wrote the above in 2006. Imagine that, 10 years later, none of the promises came true.


The following table may be helpful for those studying Chinese or Japanese...

Title CharactersVarious forms of Romanized Chinese
Shenzhou Spacecraft神舟shén zhōu
shen2 zhou1
shen zhou
shenzhou
shen chou
shenchou