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China celebrates first spacewalk, cites space heroes
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President Hu Jintao presents medals and certificates to the three astronauts of Shenzhen VII mission.

President Hu Jintao presents medals and certificates to the three astronauts of Shenzhen VII mission. 

China awarded people who made outstanding contributions to the Shenzhou VII manned space flight during a meeting Friday morning in Beijing.

Chinese President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and other top leaders Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang and He Guoqiang were all in attendance. (To learn more about China's top leadership, please click here.)

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang announced a decision, jointly made by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the State Council and the Central Military Commission, to award Zhai Zhigang the title of "Space Flight Hero." Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng each received the title of "Heroic Astronaut".

Chinese President Hu Jintao presented the three with medals and certificates commemorating their outstanding performance during the spacewalk.

China became the third country in the world to complete a spacewalk on Sept. 25.

Hu said it was a small step from a Chinese astronaut, but a big step for the nation's scientific and technological innovation.

He said the successful spacewalk was an important milestone in the country's space flight history and was one of the major achievements in building an innovative nation.

Hu extended his greetings and congratulations to the three astronauts, and all the people who had contributed to the country's space flight cause.

He also thanked the Chinese people, including those in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan as well as overseas Chinese and foreign friends, who supported the country's space research and development.

China's manned space flight program was launched 16 years ago. It developed from an un-piloted space flight to missions with more than one astronaut, one of whom completed a spacewalk.

Hu said this success showed the country had greatly increased its economic, scientific and comprehensive power after 30 years of reform and opening up.

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