Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Shenzhou 7 is on Final Countdown

We are on final countdown till the next group of Chinese taikonauts go into space. Tomorrow night, 9/25/2008 at around 9:50pm, Shenzhou 7 will lift off for a mission in space. This will mark the first space walk ever by an Chinese astronaut, or 太空人.

I've been reading about the imminent launch recently on CNN and Google News, however, I haven't looked that much into it. Talking to a friend a few days ago, the most important and interesting aspect of China going into space is that the technology was basically all developed in China. Although some of basic designs were originally taken from the Souez of Russia, it has been extensively re engineered and redesigned. All of the technology necessary for the life support, power, communications, operations, everything has been made in China. This is because Europe and the US will not give China any help in anything space related.

After getting back to my apartment from the gym today, while surfing the channels, I saw a CCTV News channel special feature on the mission called 中华看神舟. Hosted by news anchors from the mainland, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. This feature included the dedication ceremony held by officials in the space agency as well as personal profiles of the astronauts.

One of the features of the Shenzhou 7 mission is that all 3 astronauts are from northern China - 2 from Heilongjiang province (where I was born). Both came from humble beginnings in relatively poor families. The leader of the mission and one of the alternates for the 1st manned mission into space, his grandmother sold sunflower seeds as snacks to help put him through high school. Only though dedication, luck and hard work did the astronauts get to where they are now.

Interesting other parts of the program includes: 中华看神州
  • The 3 astronauts still do not know who will make the first Chinese space walk yet.
  • All 3 were born in 1966.
  • The main training compound for astronauts is located ini the suburbs of Beijing. The astronauts stay on campus from Monday through Friday and have all activities, meals and facilities on campus. Only during the weekend can they leave campus.
  • After the interview, the program showed an extended graphic of the mission which included the preparations, liftoff, separation, orbital patterns crew working, crew compartments, preparations of the space walk and the actual walk - all in 3D graphics.
  • During the interview with one of the taikonauts, although he wanted to be the person who did the first space walk, he quickly reiterated the importance of this mission and the collective pride of all the astronauts who were chosen for this mission and their dedication to it.
  • There was no doubt in the astronauts' mind that the mission would be successful.
  • There are more than 200 reporters and correspondents on site at the launch pad.
  • The launch pad complex has more than 20,000 people living there, complete with schools, restaurants, offices and entertainment.
I'm going to try to watch the lift off with my extended family here in Shenzhen. It's going to be quite a show.

1 comment:

Mike said...

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-09/24/content_10104225.htm