Yang returns a nation's hero
( 2003-10-17 08:41) (China Daily)
After a landmark 21-hour and 23-minute expedition that took him around the world 14 times, China's first astronaut Yang Liwei returned to the earth yesterday morning.
By doing so, he fulfilled his mission and realized a centuries-old dream cherished by all of China.
"Yang, confirmed to be in very good condition, walked out of the cabin by himself," said Li Jinai, chief commander of Shenzhou-V Project, at the Beijing Aerospace Control Centre. "At the same time, Shenzhou-V, China's self-made spacecraft, returned smoothly without any damage to the re-entry module."
The Shenzhou-V manned spacecraft touched down almost precisely at the primary landing site in North China's Inner Mongolia at 6:23 am, Li said.
Carrying the 38-year old astronaut Yang, also a lieutenant colonel, the Shenzhou-V lifted off on Wednesday at 9 am at Gansu Province's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre.
As the 241st human being to visit outer space, Yang travelled in the orbit more than 600,000 kilometres, researchers at the control centre said. They were in charge of the telemetry, tracking and control of the craft.
In Inner Mongolia, more than 600 people gathered at the landing site, including local residents, space mission workers, police officers and journalists, Xinhua reported.
Joyous onlookers carried Yang in a chair to a medical vehicle 10 metres away to receive a medical checkup. Three minutes later he got out of the cabin and was presented flowers and ribbons of congratulation in the golden sunlight. Yang smiled and waved to his colleagues and the public.
Recovery personnel indicated Yang's condition was good, and he suffered no ill effects from 21 hours in space.
"The spacecraft operates well. I feel very good and I am proud of my motherland," the cool and calm astronaut said before boarding a plane and heading to Beijing.
Two hours later, Yang reached the control centre.
Thousands of people, some of them centre staff, began cheering and dancing along the two sides of the road as Yang's special bus passed.
Sitting beside a window, Yang waved to the cheering throng as it ran after the bus, yelling happily.
Yang received further medical exams in Beijing.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said yesterday the flight was "of great significance in history. The success was exciting not only for all Chinese, but for people around the world."
Zhang said the Shenzhou-V carried the flags of the United Nations and China, showing China's willingness to closely co-operate with the United Nations and to co-operate with other nations in the peaceful utilization of space."
She said China is grateful for the congratulations of leaders of other countries.
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