Role, legacy, symbolism of Long March 80 years later

Jin Dan( | Updated: 2016-10-21 11:00

Role, legacy, symbolism of Long March 80 years later

Visitors view the models of the Long March-series carrier rockets during the 16th China Beijing International High-Tech Expo in Beijing, May 22, 2013.[Photo/Xinhua]

As China's Long March rocket carries two Chinese astronauts into space, the country celebrates another historic moment: the 80th anniversary of the end of the Long March undertaken by the Red Army, on Saturday.

Here we take a look at the Long March, an event that changed China's history, and analyze why this event continues to resonate so strongly with Chinese even after eight decades. We look at its role in different fields, its legacy and its symbolism.

Many events are planned to commemorate the epic expedition, including a speech by President Xi Jinping at a convention in Beijing on Friday.

Marching from Earth to space

China once again impressed the world with the successful launch of manned spacecraft Shenzhou XI on Monday, a feat that's doubly impressive as it's the country's longest manned space program.

While the technology, training and everything connected with the program belong to the modern age, the clue that even this journey to explore the world far away from our Earth has strong ties with the expedition that took place 80 years ago lies in the name of the rocket that carried the spacecraft: Long March-2F Y11.

Interestingly, this year also marks the 60th anniversary of China's space exploration and 50th anniversary of the Long March rocket family.

"It is not a coincidence that the rocket series is named 'Long March'. The name is endowed with profound meaning and significance," said Liang Xiaohong, top official of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.

"At the beginning, designers fretted over the name and all were at a loss. Several days later, one major designer read a poem entitled 'The Long March' by Chairman Mao and was touched by the spirit of persistence and bravery of the Red Army. He thought 'Long March' was the perfect word for the rocket and immediately decided to use it," Liang added.

In 1970, Long March-1 rocket sent China's first satellite Dong Fang Hong-1 into Earth's orbit, making China the fifth nation to achieve independent launch capability after Soviet Union, the US, France and Japan.

This week's launch was Long March-2F's 13th attempt and the 237th of the whole rocket family.

In June, the new model of this rocket family Long March-7 blasted off for maiden space flight, which together with the orbiting Tiangong II space lab bodes well for the final phase of China's three-step manned space program to assemble and operate a permanent manned space station.

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