Facebook Twitter 新浪微博 腾讯微博 Wednesday 3 June 2015
English>>People's Daily Online Exclusives

What China's astronauts said to CNN

(People's Daily Online)    13:17, June 02, 2015

CNN screenshot

In a demonstration of the country's growing confidence in and openness about its space program, China recently invited CNN to visit the "Space City" located northwest of Beijing, and CNN was granted an exclusive interview with China's three astronauts from the 2013 Shenzhou-10 mission - Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping.

The interview premiered on the night of May 29, Eastern US Time.

Supermen or ordinary people?

In 2013, the Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft, carrying its crew of three, carried out a successful automatic and manual docking with Tiangong-1 space lab. Wang Yaping conducted a number of scientific experiments and gave a lecture from space on physics to Chinese students by live television broadcast.

CNN called the crew "three of China's top astronauts" in the report and emphasized that this was the first time that they had given an interview to foreign media.

CNN's reporter was curious to ask if the docking maneurer had been particuarly difficult. Nie Haisheng confirmed that it had been a real challenge. The crew had practiced the operation again and again on the ground-simulator. When CNN reporter went on to ask how long he had spent in training, Nie Haisheng replied: “We trained for two years.”

Reports at the time said that in order to complete their tasks in space, the Chinese astronauts had to practice thousands of times on the ground. They were subjected to physical, psychological and teamwork tests. So, the CNN reporter asked, are you a superman? Nie Haisheng relied that the training had indeed been very hard, but the crew were just ordinary people who happened to be particularly well-suited to the demands of space flight.

CNN also asked the three astronauts why they had wanted to become astronauts, and about their experience in the space. Wang Yaping said that when she saw the spacecraft carrying Yang Liwei launched into space, she thought that the first male Chinese astronaut had now been sent into space and that it should be possible for female astronauts to be selected as the crew for the Shenzhou-10 mission.

During the Shenzhou-10 mission, Wang conducted a science lecture to 60 million students throughout China. She demonstrated the surface tension of liquids in space, performed some kung fu moves, and answered live questions.

According to the CNN report, Shenzhou-10 mission was a long time coming for Zhang Xiaoguang. Such is the competitiveness of China's astronaut program, this former fighter squadron commander of the PLA Air Force, who boasts more than a thousand hours of flight time, had to wait for eight astronauts to reach space before he got his chance.

"Each time I wasn't selected for a mission there was nothing I could do about it, so I kept looking forward and working hard, anticipating the next opportunity," he said.

When he was finally chosen after all the hours of training, Zhang said he was overcome by emotion.

"I wasn't in the least bit calm when I first heard the news. I had been through so much and so many things that had happened in the past, that it was impossible for me to stay calm."

Zhang is probably best known to the Chinese public as the official cameraman of the Shenzhou-10's 15-day mission but his crew members call him the joker, according to CNN.

"We were in space and confined to such a small place, we really needed a friendly atmosphere to make our work and life enjoyable."

As for Nie Haisheng, he's a fan of the Oscar-winning movie "Gravity," where star Sandra Bullock flies back to earth in a Chinese spacecraft after hers is destroyed.

"We all need to have such a strong state of mind... toward the end of the movie when she came out of the craft at the lake with her hand clutching sand, it just showed her yearning for life," he said.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Huang Jin)

Add your comment

We Recommend

Most Viewed


Key Words