Sunday, 17 June 2012

All abuzz over spacewoman

Liu Yang, the first ever female taikonaut, has China on its feet. 

THE Internet sphere in China has been abuzz with one name since the name list of the three astronauts launching to space under its Shenzhou 9 mission was announced last Friday.

Liu Yang is the toast of the country and her hometown in Zexia village in Henan province’s Linzhou city.

“Rocket will launch at 18:37. Among the three, one is the country’s first female to go to space (applause). Wish them a safe return!” iii-e-n-vU tweeted on weibo.

Another netizen Beautiful Olive Tree said: “Wish Shenzhou 9 a great success! Mighty female astronaut!”

Mikki said on weibo: “No. 1 hero Liu!” while Li Yongkang simply put it: “I love you, happy journey to you.”

The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft ferrying Liu Yang and her two fellow crews Liu Wang and Jing Haipeng blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Gansu province at the scheduled time on Saturday to perform China’s first manned space docking mission with the Tiangong 1 space lab module which has been orbiting space since September last year.

The 33-year-old, who was admitted to the Civil Aviation Flight University at 19 that led to her road to space, will be responsible for the experimental research work during the 13-day space mission.

Villagers at Liu Yang’s hometown only knew about her top secret mission a day before the press conference to announce and introduce the three astronauts.

They gathered at her house with her parents and family to watch the press conference live on television. Liu Yang’s mother was in tears while her father was glued to the television.

When Liu Yang waved to the journalists, the proud parents candidly waved back in recognition as if their daughter could see them.

Liu Yang’s uncle Niu Zhenxi said she seldom returned home in the past year due to her strenuous preparations for the mission.

“We found out that she was going to space only from the media. She never told us about it but we fully understood that her job nature was confidential,” Niu said.

Liu Tianchai, 72, had become a famous man in the village because her granddaughter excelled in the family by also being a high-ranked officer.

“Some villagers have been on flights before but none had ever flown a plane. It was definitely out of our imagination that my granddaughter was going to space,” he said.

Tianchai said his granddaughter was now the pride of the family but he added that without good education in a bigger city, it would be hard for her to make the mark.

Other family members simply wished her a safe return from space.

They described Liu Yang as someone who behaved as tough as a man, saying that she did not care too much about what she wore like other teenage girls.

She loves reading history books, novels and cooking. Her signature dishes include Coke chicken wings and stone-pot mixed rice.

She has fair writing and public speaking skills. She is also a part-time event host.

At the press conference, Liu Yang said she had turned from a pilot to an astronaut to “fly to greater heights and longer distances”.

“Besides the heavy workload during this mission, I hope I will be able to see more of the wonderful environment in space and enjoy every moment of this voyage.

“I thank everyone who supports us. We will not let them down and will work as a team to get our job done,” she added.

Made In China by CHOW HOW BAN hbchow@thestar.com.my

Related posts:
How to See China's Space Capsule and Lab Module in Night Sky
China Manned Space Mission successful 

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