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Changchun Welcomes Space Show

An exhibition dedicated to China's manned space flights, the largest ever of its kind in the country, has welcomed more than 10,000 people over the past two days.


The exhibition, "Flying into the Sky Chinese Manned Space Flight," in the capital of northeast China's Jilin Province aims to commemorate the country's successful spacecraft missions, Shenzhou Vand Shenzhou VI.


At Sunday's opening ceremony, China's first astronaut in space Yang Liwei cut the ribbon.


More than 100 articles, including a spacesuit used on Shenzhou VI, its re-entry module, robots, special space food, a water fountain and astronauts' food plates, are on display in the show.


"I was too excited to fall asleep on Saturday night as I was thinking of seeing Yang Liwei and the spacesuit of an astronaut. I wanted very much to shake hands and have my photo taken with him," said Zhang Quange, a 4-year-old boy, who visited the show.


"The show is really a good chance for kids to personally experience the great progress made in China's space exploration," said Jiang Zhihua, who took her 7-year-old son with her.


In the exhibition hall, Ding Guiting, 82, one of the oldest visitors, enjoyed looking at space food with his 76-year-old wife.


He said: "I saw the food before on television I was so excited to see it in person."


He added: "I am proud of living in this great era."


The event at the city's exhibition center runs until March 30.


Yang, 38, from Liaoning Province, took the opportunity of opening the exhibition to catch up with old friends in the city.


He was recruited by No 2 Aviation College, a branch school of Changchun-based PLA Air Force Aviation University in 1983 and became a fighter pilot after graduating with a bachelor's degree.


He paid a return visit at the weekend.


"When I went to visit the university, I got the feeling of being back home," Yang said.


"I was deeply moved by the warm welcome here. It's a great pleasure for me to look back upon the glorious process of China's manned space mission with my old school. I want to thank the leaders, teachers and schoolmates on behalf of all the 14 Chinese astronauts."


Li Shaomin, president of the school, presented the copies of documents of Yang's status archives when he studied at the school and a 20 meter-long banner with the signatures of all the teachers and students of the university to Yang as a gift.


"They are really special and valuable presents. They not only record my precious memories here, but also encourage me to work harder," Yang said.


"To help the public understand China's space program is my duty. As an astronaut I am still taking regular training in Beijing and I am still ready for next space trip in the future."


"Yang was once a pilot I do hope our female pilots could have the chance to be astronauts one day in our country," Zhang Xiaojia, one of the female pilots of the school said.


(China Daily February 28, 2006)



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