·Shenzhou Mission
·Space Policy
·World Programs
'Flying Dragon' lives up to name
By Zhang Congrong
2005-10-13 14:15

The Chinese character "long" in his name, Fei Junlong, refers to a dragon which can fly in space and is regarded a symbol of Chinese nationality.

Fei lived up to his name yesterday as he blasted off into space on the Shenzhou VI spacecraft with a fellow astronaut.

Fei, 40, 1.7-metre-high, simply said "I feel good" in the sky several minutes after the launch.

His father, Fei Changbao, 69, has some "good" plans when he returns: "I will entertain him with delicious 'Yangchenghu Lake hairy crab' when he comes back.

Born in Bacheng in the city of Kunshan in East China's Jiangsu Province, Fei is the only boy of three children in the family.

He joined the air force army in 1982 when he was 17 years old.

After he was selected for astronaut training in 1998, his mother, now 71, asked him what his new work entailed. He replied: "Still flying, but much higher."

In fact, when he was still a little boy, he had another dream to be a professional painter. He was so crazy about drawing that he always took some art paper to class while in primary school.

Even now, he often draws pictures and practises Chinese calligraphy.

"Painting and calligraphy make people calm and put them in the right frame of mind," Fei said.

His partner on the current mission, Nie Haisheng, said: "He is a versatile man. Besides drawing and calligraphy, he is also good at playing the trumpet and drums. I really like being his colleague."

Fei was one of the five who were in contention to become the first Chinese in space an honour that eventually went to Yang Liwei, who orbited the earth 14 times during a 21-hour mission in October 2003.

"In preparation for the flight of Shenzhou-V, Fei was one of the five candidates under final intensive training," Yang told Xinhua.

Fei is an open-minded, active man who is very good in dealing with various circumstances, Yang said.

In July 1992, when he was on a test flight, the aircraft ran short of fuel. With his outstanding skill, Fei managed to pilot the plane back to the airport, landing with an empty tank. His courage, skill and calm won him a special pilot grade at the age of 32.

During training to be an astronaut, Fei scored excellent marks in almost all subjects. "He is 40 years old, but still likes to learn a lot of things every day like our 13-year-old son," Wang Jie, Fei's wife, said, adding that he has memorized every bit of the flight handbook which has more than 400,000 words.

Before he boarded the aircraft, Fei told the media: "I appreciate my wife a lot. She bears a lot of burden in the family."


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