In Chinese mythology, Chang’e (嫦娥) is the Moon Goddess. The ancient story goes that long ago, the earth had been scorched by ten suns that had appeared in the skies. The people on Earth were suffering as a result. Chang’e’s husband Yi, an archer, shot down nine of them with arrows. He left just one sun in the sky. As a reward for saving the Earth’s people he was given the elixir of immortality.
He did not want to live forever without his beloved wife and so gave the elixir to her for safekeeping. However, Yi’s apprentice Fengmeng wanted the elixir for himself. He tried to force Chang’e to give it to him. In order that he could not steal it, Chang’e quickly drank it. She was so beside herself with grief that she would have to live without her husband that she then flew upward to the moon and remained there for eternity.
All four Chinese lunar probes to date have been named after Chang’e. In fact, the story was mentioned in a conversation between Houston and the astronauts during the famous Moon landing mission in 1969. Michael Collins said that they would look out for Chang’e while they were at the moon!