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Tale of two trailblazers: Grueling training, hopes and dreams

By Guo Kai | | Updated: 2016-11-18 11:10

Tale of two trailblazers: Grueling training, hopes and dreams

A photo taken by astronaut Yang Liwei. [File Photo]

The return of Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong is attracting public attention, so it's perfect time to remember those who devoted themselves to the manned space program but were not able to go into space.

Wu Jie and Li Qinglong were among the country's first 14 astronaut trainees and even went to Russia for training before the country finally founded its first team of astronauts. But they never got the chance to go into space. Wu retired from the team in June this year. Their efforts inspired their peers and pushed ahead the manned space program.

Here, we reveal their stories and discover what happened to them.

48 hours in minus 50 degree

China had just started its manned space program in 1990s, and the scientists faced lots of difficulties at that time. China could only send astronauts to Russia's Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre for training.

Wu Jie, born in 1963, and Li Qinglong, also born in 1963, were chosen to undergo training at the Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre in 1996. They completed the four–year course in just one year and graduated from the center.

During the training, Wu and Li were once taken to the snow field in the Arctic Circle where they lived for 48 hours in minus 50 degree. They had only some essential food and few biscuits.

"During the two days, we seldom slept and our bodies were aching in pain," Li said. He lost 2 kilograms during the training.

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