Now that's really a long-distance call!
( 2003-10-16 10:48) (China Daily)
In a live telephone link from the Shenzhou-V, astronaut Yang Liwei last night told his family he felt "very good" in space.
"I promise to fulfill this mission smoothly. Wait for my good news," Yang said confidently.
The talk was held at 7:58 pm between the 38-year-old Yang and his family members, who watched him carefully at the tracking and control hall at Beijing Aerospace Control Centre.
"So proud of you, hubby," said Zhang Yumei, Yang's wife. "Our parents, your son and I are looking at you now. What does the outside of the module look like?"
"Splendid!" replied Yang. "The scenery outside is very beautiful, and I can see our beautiful home planet. The inner environment of the craft is very good."
"Dear Daddy, how are you? Have you written diaries? What did you eat?" asked the astronaut's 8-year-old son Yang Ningkang.
"Thank you, my dear son," Yang said. "The condition of my body is pretty good. I have written down everything about the work here and what I saw. I ate the so-called space food in the module," he added humorously.
"I wish you smooth sailing and I'll see you tomorrow," said the grade two student.
Yang rocketed into space at 9:00 am yesterday. He took with him Chinese dishes like eight-treasure rice pudding, stir-fried diced chickens with chili and peanuts, fish-flavoured shredded pork and a tonic drink containing traditional Chinese medicine.
On the big screen at the command and control centre, Yang looked very calm piloting the capsule from his specially-designed chair.
Yang was born in June 1965 in Suizhong County of Northeast China's Liaoning Province and joined the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) at 18.
He graduated from the No 8 Aviation College of the PLA Air Force in 1987 with a bachelor's degree and went on to log 1,350 hours of flight experience as a fighter pilot.
In January 1998 Yang became a member of China's first team of astronauts.
Yang's colleagues describe him as a man with a good sense of team spirit who is dedicated to his career, while friends in his hometown, Suizhong County of Northeast China's Liaoning Province, remember that Yang dreamed of flying when still a child. His wife, Zhang Yumei, is also in the space programme.
According to Su Shuangning, director-general of the astronaut system under the nation's manned space programme, China's first team of astronauts are all capable of working and living in space thanks to five years of rigid physical, psychological and technical training.
"To establish myself as a qualified astronaut, I studied harder than in my college years and have received training much tougher than for a fighter pilot," said Yang.
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