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Exhibition Reveals Space Adventure

Is your budget too tight for an authentic space trip like the one that cost the American Dennis Tito US$20 million? Then why not spend a fraction of the price for a visual space adventure?


A 15-day Shenzhou VI exhibition, which began on December 3, is enthralling visitors to the National Museum of China in Beijing, with nearly 300 photos and authentic spaceship parts.


Organizers said last weekend saw ticket sales of more than 2,000.


At weekdays, the daily sale was about 100 tickets.


The exhibition's centerpiece is a bell-shaped space return module, which is about 2.2 meters high and weighs 3.5 tons.


There are also a number of items from the Shenzhou VI mission, including the V-shaped space suits of astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng, their working suits from modules, space food, a 20-meter long parachute and two bottles of plants for space breeding research.


Items on display are surrounded by 3-meter long rolls of paintings and calligraphy, which astronauts took along in the mission.


Huge photos feature various moments of the remarkable event, from the initial scientific research ahead of the mission to the craft's return. They were taken by China's astronauts Nie, Fei and Yang Liwei, who was an astronaut for Shenzhou V, or by professional photographers.


"We watched the live broadcast of the launch of Shenzhou VI and V and it was exciting to witness," said 70-year-old Zhang Yongqi, who took his wife to the exhibition on Monday.


"I have been keeping an eye on our achievements in space sciences since the 1960s, when we exploded the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb. I know these are all major technologies that represent a country's development."


He said he expected that China could soon build a space station of its own and send astronauts to work there.


Four-year-old Wang Lingyun could realize the dream when he grows up. He was most excited at the model rocket standing at the end of the room.


"I want to drive the Shenzhou VIII to space and take a look at the Earth," he said.


He is among scores of children who have been taken to the exhibition by their relatives.


The exhibition costs 35 yuan (US$4.5) to get in.


But some visitors complained about the display.


Guo Yan, a tour guide in the capital, grumbled: "They don't even provide narrators for such a high-tech exhibition.


"How can ordinary people understand what these items and pictures are really about with only some captions?"


(China Daily December 15, 2005)



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