How do we call the Chinese astronauts?

This should have an answer in Chinese, but what about other languages like English?

We have astronauts and cosmonauts, did we figure out how the Chinese call theirs? I heard “Taikonaut” but that is not official, the Chinese press has so far used the term “yuhangyuan,”

What is their name?

Hmm…well who knows ‘taikonauts’ might stick, because there simply isn’t a universally-agreed name for them at all, for now at least. Though as a person who understands Mandarin I find it amusing but highly ridiculous-sounding.

Though I think it’d be better off if the press just calls them ‘Chinese astronauts.’

“Astronaut” is a generic term for all space travellers. All news stories I could find refer to Yang Liwei as China’s first astronaut.

But quite a few also using the term “taikonaut” so I think it’ll stick. The term has been used by the media for a couple of years at least.

10-10-220? Oh wait… :smiley:

Well, technically all space travellers are astronauts. If you do want to be country specific, I’ve been hearing taikonaut forever (the Chinese word for space is apparently “Taikong”). I don’t see why that’s gonna change now.

The Chinese use the word “astronaut” in English. “Taikonaut” was made up in Singapore. All according to a Swedish diplomat in China, who was interviewed on radio this morning.

Speaking of, why in the world do we have the distinction between cosmonauts and astronauts? I assume it’s a relic of the Cold War and the space race. Is it still used?

Well, Russian space travellers usually get referred to as cosmonauts, and at least the Russian Space Agency’s website uses the term. I think “astronaut” is a specifically American word, although it is often used for the ones the Russians call cosmonauts as well.
(I don’t know whether the Russians refer to American space travellers as cosmonauts ort astronauts.)

Sorry, do you mean that when using English they use “astronaut,” or that they use “astronaut” as a borrow-word in Chinese speech or text? Because the former seems to be true (though I don’ take in much English-language Chinese media) while I have seen nothing that would support the latter.

I mean that they use “astronaut” about their own space travelers in English language contexts. The diplomat interviewed mentioned the Chinese word, but that is nothing that I am willing to utter in public without proper training.

what’s wrong with astronaut?

“taikonaut” sounds very odd, if not derisive. “taiko” in hokkien is erm, ugly/smelly/whatever. notice the chinese nationals themselves prefer the term “yuhang2yuan2” as opposed to “tai4kong1ren2”.

that taiko word just sounds… bad.

Long Distance, presumably.

It’s imperialistic. “Astronaut” was the term coined for the U.S. space program during the Cold War. Read in context, it is a specifically American term, because the only other country (until yesterday) to actually have any* used a different word – cosmonaut. Furthermore, astronaut isn’t as accurate a descriptor as cosmonaut because, while the steps humans have taken to explore the cosmos have so far been small ones, there ain’t nobody who’s ever actually voyaged to a star. If China wants to adopt the U.S. term than that’s fine with me, but it’s their space program, and it’s not the business of the U.S. (or the U.S. media) to announce that their space voyagers will be known by the American word.


*Yes, I know that many other countries have had astronauts, but as long as the U.S. was giving them a ride they were part of the U.S. program.

The English newspapers I have read use the term “yuhangyuan”.

It’s good that this subject was brought up. All of the papers that I read have said that China has become only the third nation in history to put a human in space.

I swear that I heard a story in the mid 90s that France, Spain, and another country had collectively sent up several satellites, with atleast one European on board each flight.

Can anyone confirm or deny this?

I found this from Asia Pacific News:

I read elsewhere that the Chinese didn’t coin “taikonaut.” (That is sort of implied above, where it notes that Chinese officials dislike the term.)

And this reminder: “Japanese traveling on the US space shuttle are still referred to as astronauts, just as East Germans who hitched a ride on Soviet spacecraft called themselves cosmonauts.”

There are two things you might be thinking of, here. First, various countries have launched satellites, using their own rockets. But for most satellites, there’s no reason at all to have a human along for the ride: You have to meet much greater safety standards, and you have to bring some portion of your payload safely back to Earth somehow rather than leaving it up there. On the other hand, various nations have also launched payloads on the Shuttle, and often when that happens, there’s a mission specialist on board from that country to handle it. But in this case, they’re on an American mission in an American vehicle.

As for a space explorer being an astronaut or cosmonaut depending on the country operating the mission, what about those folks who went up to Mir or the ISS on a Russian rocket, but came back down on the Shuttle? Are they astronauts or cosmonauts? Did their status change halfway through the mission? Are they both, or neither, or something else entirely?

How 'bout soynauts? I read they’re serving some pretty tasty Chinese food up there.

“Astronaut” is “imperialistic”? WTF?

Over the years, there have been various ESA projects intended to lead to purely European manned launches using Ariane 5. Most notably Hermes, a sort of mini-Shuttle. None of these got very far and certainly not to the point of a manned flight. While various long-term conceptual schemes are no doubt still kicked around, I don’t think there are any current ESA projects working towards an independent manned capability.

You can disagree all you want, sailor, but the “WTF” is uncalled for since there’s a whole paragraph of explanation right there in my post. :rolleyes:


Well the Americans were astronauts, the Soviets/Russians were cosmonauts, and the others should follow the naming convention of whoever lifted them up there. That’s less a function of artificial formality and more an acknowledgement of whose training program they earned their wings under. Dennis Tito was a cosmonaut because he was part of the Russian space program. Donald Pettit and Kenneth Bowersox were astronauts even though they came home in a Soyuz escape vehicle.