Astronauts' safe return sparks big celebrations
By Bao Daozu and Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-18 06:03
The successful return of China's second manned
spacecraft, Shenzhou VI, early yesterday morning let the nation heave a
collective sigh of relief and celebrate a new milestone in aerospace history.
Junlong (L) and Nie Haisheng wave to welcoming crowds at a military
airport in west Beijing upon their arrival in the Chinese capital October
17, 2005. [Xinhua]
In astronaut Fei Junlong's hometown Kunshan in East China's Jiangsu Province
neighbours swarmed at his home and set off firecrackers to celebrate his return.
Fei Changbao, his father, said: "I believed my son could come back safely
because I trust in the country's power. And we also had a successful example
Yang Liwei's successful return in Shenzhou V."
Fei's parents reportedly refused a wave of gifts from enterprises. Among the
gifts was a villa from a local real estate developer built on the shore of
Yangcheng Lake and worth about 1 million yuan (US$120,000).
Although the house in which they live now was built 20 years ago and has
become worn, Fei's parents said their son had told them in advance that the
family should stay low-key and not accept such things.
"The municipal government released a notice on Sunday awarding the family the
title 'hero's family' as a spiritual encouragement and a villa as a material
reward," said Li Jinhai, an official with the Kunshan government.
Fei's parents received the real estate certificate yesterday morning. If
everything goes smoothly, they will soon say goodbye to their old two-storey
In Nie Haisheng's hometown, Zaoyang in Central China's Hubei Province,
villagers were busy building a temporary stage for the performance of local
operas in celebration.
Citizens in other cities also expressed their excitement and congratulations
in different ways.
In Beijing, Liu Yunpeng of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of
China said: "I just came back to Beijing from a business trip in Hebei Province.
I did not know the exact time of the return. But when I got the news from the
broadcast on the train this early morning, I suddenly woke up with a strong
feeling of happiness."
Students in Shanghai also felt excited about the return.
"I am very excited about the news of Shenzhou VI," said Cao Qunshen, a Junior
Two student at Siping Middle School.
What made him even more excited is that he has been elected to portray Fei in
Cao and Zhang Yunfan, a Junior Three student at Siping who portrayed Nie, are
to put on a live show illustrating the takeoff procedure of Shenzhou VI.
"We learnt a lot in preparing for the performance," Cao said, "such as the
whole structure of the aircraft, its difference from Shenzhou V, and its
In Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province, Cheng Cuilan said
she was particularly proud of the great achievement China has made in developing
its aerospace industry.
Besides watching the live broadcast of the launch on Wednesday morning, Cheng
said she has been keeping an eye on Shenzhou VI and the two astronauts, via
local TV programmes and other media in the past five days.
"Actually, I am not alone in expressing deep interest in the news about the
Shenzhou VI spacecraft," Cheng, a 35-year-old white-collar worker, told China
"That indicates the people have also been much concerned about the
development of the country," Cheng added.
Liu Jinting, vice-president of Guangdong Dayinxiang Group Company, said the
successful return of Shenzhou VI was encouraging news to all Chinese people at
home and abroad.
"It will be positive to my company's technological innovation and expansion
of production," said Liu, whose company mainly produces health drinks in
Liu said his company had donated 150 boxes of quality health wine to both the
Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Centre and the Jiuquan Satellite Launch
Centre in Northwest China's Gansu Province to celebrate the successful return of
In Hong Kong, Chief Executive Donald Tsang said yesterday that the Shenzhou
mission demonstrates the country's national strength and enhances China's valour
"We see a bright future for our country from the successful mission of
Shenzhou VI," Tsang said in a letter to President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen
He also invited the two astronauts, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng, and other
space mission personnel to visit Hong Kong. China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei,
visited Hong Kong after the Shenzhou V mission ended in 2003.
Edmund Ho Hau-wah, chief executive of the Macao Special Administrative
Region, also asked the central government to arrange for Fei and Nie to tour
Representing citizens of the region, the chief executive congratulated the
successful launch and touchdown of the country's second space mission, saying:
"Shenzhou VI demonstrates that Chinese people are capable of exploring the
infinite universe in a peaceful manner and with purpose."
Lien Chan, honorary chairman of the Taiwan-based Chinese Kuomintang Party
(KMT), also extended greetings yesterday as he toured the coastal city of Dalian
in Northeast China's Liaoning Province on a two-week visit, the Xinhua News
Agency said yesterday.
(China Daily 10/18/2005 page2)