The Tsien is a fictional Chinese spacecraft that makes its way to Europa, introduced in Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two.[note 1]


The Tsien is named after Chinese rocket engineer Tsien Hsue-shen (1911–2009).

2010: Odyssey TwoEdit

In a superpower space-race to Jupiter:[1] the USA builds Discovery 2; the Soviets launch the Leonov a year early; and China orders the Tsien, a Chinese Earth-orbiting space station, to unexpectedly leave orbit on a secret mission around the time of the Leonov's departure. The Tsien expends all of its propellant to reach Jupiter, and makes a perfect landing on its moon, Europa. This action ignites a host of all sorts of reactions from the US and the Soviets.

China’s plan was to make the Tsien look like a spacestation, but once they added the boosters, it shot across space bypassing the Leonov.[2] Its plan was to use Europa's water supply to refill propellant tanks for further enabled spaceflight. However, shortly after the Tsien landing, a Europan lifeform, apparently attracted by Tsien's powerful lights, broke through the ice destroying the ship, and killing all but one crew member. The only survivor radios a message which the Leonov picks up in 2010, but the survivor is never heard from again.

In 2010, Jupiter transforms into a mini-sun called Lucifer. It warms Europa and melts its new seas for some years, with the Tsien wreck adrift on the seas.

2061: Odyssey ThreeEdit

A half century later, the Galaxy crashes in 2061. The crew discovers what’s left of the Tsien, and they lay a wreath in memorial of it.

The settlement of Tsienville is established on Europa using wreckage from the Tsien spacecraft. By 2061, the native Europans have stripped Tsien of all metal, which is a material extremely rare in pure form on Europa. The Europans start a small settlement next to the remains of the ship, aptly nicknaming the area, Tsienville.


  1. The Tsien spaceship does not appear in the 1984 film adaption, 2010: The Year We Make Contact.


  1. Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two, p. 6 (Read it!)
  2. Arthur C. Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two, p. 7 (Read it!)