The news feed in the The Pod Bay links to NASA Spacelfight's 2020-11-08 news item Introducing China’s new commercial rocket, Ceres-1.

China’s latest commercial rocket, the Ceres-1 (Gushenxing-1) launch vehicle, has conducted its maiden launch this weekend, orbiting the Tianqi-11 satellite.

Chinese company Galactic Energy conducted the launch on Saturday morning at 07:12 UTC from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The Galactic Energy, also designated Beijing Xinghe Dongli Space Technology Co. Ltd., is one of several private Chinese companies that is developing orbital launch vehicles – of small or medium cargo capacity – for the Chinese domestic and international launch markets.

At present, Galactic Energy’s research and development team have more than 100 employees, and 90 percent of the staff have more than five years’ working experience in the spaceflight industry.

Transliteration from Chinese Pinyin to English or other Romanized forms is ambiguous; many Chinese characters can have the same sound, and Pinyin without the tone "ambiguifies" by an additional factor of four per character (syllable) , so while one (not me!) might be able to guess what Gu Shen Xing might be, it's impossible to be certain. (4 x 4 x 4 = 64)

In other words, you can't type pinyin like "Gu Shen Xing" or "Gushenxing" into a search engine or translator and expect to find the correct Chinese. It might try to guess, but it's a one-to-many mapping.

In other words, having an additional Romanized name using an alphabet instead of romanized equivalent is probably extremely helpful for a rocket looking for international customers.

Question: Is the Ceres-1 the first Chinese spacecraft that was given an official Romanized name? Have there been previous commercial rockets launched to space that have had one? Have any government or military launch-to-orbit rockets had an official Romanized name?

note: "Given an official Chinese name" would be by the rocket's owners or producers or by some official Chinese government body. Romanized names assigned by foreign organizations for their own use and convenience don't count for the purposes of this question.

Google back translation from Pinyin is ambiguous

  • $\begingroup$ Asked in Chinese SE: Is this statement about the challenges of tracking down the Chinese equivalent of a name in Pinyin basically correct? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 3:11
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "Ceres" was the name of a Roman goddess, and is the international name of an asteroid recently labeled a minor planet. It's not an English name, but one that belongs to the whole of the western culture. $\endgroup$
    – Ginasius
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 6:28
  • $\begingroup$ @Ginasius I can look it up in an English dictionary and there it is. It is de facto an English word, in the form of a proper noun. The inclusion of a word in one language does not exclude it from being included in other languages. In English we call an asteroid Ceres as well. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 7:31
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't LM series also English? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 14:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I can find Ceres in a Spanish dictionary. Should I ask if this is the first Chinese rocket with an Spanish name? Your question, as stated, is terribly anglocentric. May I suggest you rephrase it as "non Chinese" name, which may also unearth other curiosities? $\endgroup$ Commented Nov 10, 2020 at 9:44

1 Answer 1


Long March, Chinese Chang Zheng, family of Chinese launch vehicles.

says Britannica. They were intended for export, a plausible reason for its builders to take the initiative of translating its Chinese name to one more familiar to their markets.

  • $\begingroup$ Britannica should say that "Chang Zheng" is Chinese pinyin; 长征 is Chinese. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Nov 9, 2020 at 21:56

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