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Space technology helps Olympics ceremony soar
Updated: 2008-08-09 00:22

BEIJING - China's progress in the area of space technology contributed to the successful Olympics opening ceremony, said a senior engineer in charge of the ceremony's engineering design here on Friday.

"The engineering design at the opening ceremony borrowed many of the latest space technologies. They ensured the stable operation of thousands of devices," said Zhou Fengguang, head of the Engineering Design and Research Institute of the People's Liberation Army General Armament Department.

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The main cauldron of the Beijing Olympic Games looked like a bird's eye view of a huge musical note. The design, simple but beautiful for the audience, was complicated for the engineers.

"First, we had to make sure a cauldron of this shape could stand so high over the National Stadium," said Zheng Zhirong, the engineer in charge of its design.

Experts decided to send the cauldron into a wind tunnel to test its stability, just like they did with the Shenzhou spacecraft.

Technologies used to build space vehicles were also applied to the engine control system of the cauldron, he said.

To keep it on track as it moved, monitors were installed at several key joints, from which they simultaneously sent back data to help control the speed and direction.

"The whole process was the most complicated, with the most components, that I have ever seen," said Zheng, who's been designing rocket launching systems for about 20 years.

The control center of the opening ceremony was equipped with the "Shenzhou 4000" control system that was used during space missions.

"About 800 devices were in operation at the same time. If one had a problem, the ceremony could not pause until you fixed it," Zhou said. So all key systems had back-ups.

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