Taikonaut is Chinese astronaut just like cosmonaut is Russian/Soviet version. Word taikong means space or cosmos and prefix taiko- stems from it. It seems that China, a third nation with manned space program does not want to use neither russian nor american words for its taikonauts.

Probably the most commonly used term for Chinese astronauts. According to Chen Lan, owner of the now dormant Chinese space website Go Taikonauts!, he came up with the term 'taikonaut' in 1998. At around the same time, it began appearing in postings to internet message boards. Chen named his site Go Taikonauts! in order to further promote the use of the word as the Chinese equivalent to astronaut and cosmonaut. You can visit Chen's site at: http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Launchpad/1921/index.htm Although no longer updated, it is still an interesting read.

Assuming that 'taikonaut' really was coined spontaneously on the internet (I have seen some claims that it was first used by journalists), it has been wildly succesful. Press articles frequently use the term, as do internet posters from around the world. I have been told that official PRC government documents use a different, purely Mandarin Chinese term. Since I don't speak Chinese I will leave it to others to comment on the use of 'taikonaut' within China itself. If the Chinese government is as serious as it claims to be about space exploration, I imagine we will soon discover whether taikonaut will join astronaut and cosmonaut in our space lexicon.

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