10-year-old 'rocket boy' aims for second blast-off in June

(People's Daily Online) 14:27, February 08, 2024

Photo shows Yan Hongsen and his rocket model. (yangtse.com/courtesy of the interviewee)

Yan Hongsen, a 10-year-old Chinese student who previously gained viral attention for pointing out factual inaccuracies in a video at a planetarium, is now working on building his second solid-fuel rocket.

In October 2023, Yan began building his second rocket, which is slated for launch in June of this year, according to his father.

Yan, dubbed "rocket boy," is a fourth-grade student at a primary school in Shaoxing city, east China's Zhejiang Province.

"While other students were focusing on exam preparations, he was obsessed with building rockets," his father remarked. A video showing Yan at a computer designing a circuit board for his second rocket, shared by his father, has gained widespread attention online recently.

"Many people assumed that I was the one who helped him with the design, but I didn't have a clue. He independently learned about computer programming, physics, chemistry, aerospace theories, and electronic circuits through online courses," his father explained.

Yan Hongsen works on designing a circuit board for his rocket. (yangtse.com/courtesy of the interviewee)

Space science has captivated Yan since he was just 4 years old. It was then that he and his father watched a rocket launch at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province, sparking his interest in rockets upon returning home.

"At first, we didn't pay much attention to Yan's fascination with rockets. But as he delved deeper into the subject, we started to support and guide him," his father recounted. He added that he would take Yan to aerospace museums across the country whenever possible.

Over the years, they have visited over 30 aerospace and science museums nationwide.

Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut to enter space, talks with Yan Hongsen. (yangtse.com/courtesy of the interviewee)

Yan's ascent to internet fame began in July 2022 after a video uploaded by his father went viral. In the video, Yan adeptly pointed out inaccuracies in the depiction of a rocket in an educational film at a planetarium in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region.

The planetarium acknowledged Yan's sharp observation and promptly corrected the errors in their educational film.

On Aug. 24, 2022, Yan had the opportunity to meet Zhang Yuhua, a notable figure in China's space exploration efforts. It was on this day that he expressed his ambition to build his own rocket.

From August 2022 to June 2023, Yan dedicated 10 months to researching, studying, doing experiments, and successfully building his first rocket.

However, upon launch, the rocket started to fall after traveling 200 meters, failing to deploy its parachute, Yan's father recounted, noting that Yan was dissatisfied with the result.

Yan Hongsen makes spare parts for his rocket. (yangtse.com/courtesy of the interviewee)

Yan meticulously analyzed the shortcomings of his first attempt. As he embarked on building his second rocket in October 2023, he implemented significant changes in material selection, engine design, and flight control functions.

Numerous experts in the aerospace sector have offered Yan assistance with his rocket project, according to his father.

"Every child has their own interests," Yan's father observed, emphasizing that parents should encourage their children to explore new avenues and uncover their potential strengths.

(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Hongyu)