China says farewell to "father of space technology"

16:41, November 06, 2009      

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About 10,000 people gathered at the Beijing Babaoshan Cemetery to say farewell to Chinese space scientist Qian Xuesen Friday morning.


Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) shakes hands with a relative of Qian Xuesen during the farewell ceremony for Qian in Beijing, China, Nov. 6, 2009. A farewell ceremony for late Chinese space scientist Qian Xuesen was held Friday morning at the Beijing Babaoshan Cemetery. Qian, widely acclaimed as the country's "father of space technology", died of illness on Oct. 31 at the age of 98. (Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)

Joining them were President Hu Jintao, former President Jiang Zemin and other top leaders Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang.

A statement, issued by the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Friday, described him as "an outstanding CPC member, loyal communist fighter, renowned scientist at home and abroad and founder of China's space program."

Qian's body was cremated after the ceremony.

Black scrolls were hung in the hall, on which his schoolfellows, colleagues and students left words, in white characters, to remember Qian, a traditional Chinese way to show respect for the deceased.

Qian, widely acclaimed as the country's "father of space technology," died of illness in Beijing on Oct. 31 at the age of 98.


Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin (R) shakes hands with a relative of Qian Xuesen during the farewell ceremony for Qian in Beijing, China, Nov. 6, 2009.(Xinhua/Ma Zhancheng)

Also known as Tsien Hsue-shen, Qian was considered to have played a key role in China's missile and aviation programs after the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949.

In 1956, based on Qian's position paper on the country's defense and aviation industry, the government set up an aviation industry committee, which later became the leading organization for China's missile and aviation programs.

Under his guidance, China finished the blueprint on developing jet and rocket technologies. He also played a significant role in developing the country's first artificial satellite.

"I had been an assistant to Mr. Qian. He was a very serious and devoted scientist but, in everyday life, he was so easygoing," said Liu Juntao, a senior research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Space Technology, at the ceremony. "The way he worked and thought is still inspiring me."

Since Sunday, thousands of people have paid homage at his home.

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