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China's 1st Spaceman Talks About 8 Years of Training

China's first spaceman Yang Liwei has recounted many new stories about his eight years of astronaut training.


Speaking at the ongoing 36th Committee on Space Research Scientific Assembly, Yang told Chinese youth that "Each astronaut training facility is equipped with an alarm. If the trainee feels uncomfortable, he can just press the stop button. However, since our Chinese astronaut brigade was established in 1998, no one has ever used the function."


"Space flight is a very hard job, but it is also a job that makes us feel very proud," said Yang, who carried out China's first space mission, Shenzhou V, in October 2003.


The 413th Earth man to enter outer space, Yang had previously flown 1,350 hours in fighter planes over a period of 15 years. After a selection process lasting two years, Yang became an astronaut.


Astronaut training in Russia was very harsh, Yang said. Once two Chinese astronauts training in Russia's Arctic area had to brave temperatures of minus 52 Celsius temperature for three days, in order to test their survival abilities.


Each trainee's food was supplied by quota, but the Chinese managed to save one day's food from the Arctic. "Why?" he said. "Because they wanted to bring it back for our research."


In reply to a question from a member of the audience, Yang denied that Chinese space vehicles are copies of the Soviet Soyuz." To meet the requirements of the space environment, all spaceships are similar in shape," he answered. "It is a matter of technological development and has nothing to do with copying," he said.


When Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin traveled in space for the first time in human history, gravity was nine times his own weight.


For Yang during his Shenzhou V flight, it was only four times his own weight, which almost any person in good health can tolerate.


Chinese astronauts will take a space walk when they fly Shenzhou VII, he disclosed. Regarding a manned Chinese moon mission, Yang said it is too early to mention it and no Chinese astronaut had so far been trained for this purpose.


There are also funny memories. There was a toilet in the spaceship, but it could not be used before the spaceship entered orbit. Yang said he wore a diaper during his space flight. However, he didn't urinate in it. "Better not to piss in the diaper," he said, "Babies don't like it, and nor do adults."


"When the spaceship entered outer space, I saw my beautiful homeland," he said, recalling his first space mission, "I was amazed by the view."


Looking through the window, Yang saw the spaceship lit up by the sun, the blue Earth, clouds over the Earth, China's coastline, the seas and oceans. "All these made me feel the greatness of Mankind, the greatness of the Chinese nation, and the greatness of our nation's power in science and technology," he said.


(Xinhua News Agency July 21, 2006)


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