Special Report: Third Manned Space Mission
Young pioneers present bouquets to
Chinese astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng at the space
program headquarters in Beijing's north suburbs, China, on Sept. 29, 2008.
The three Chinese astronauts who successfully completed a space journey
Sunday came back to Beijing Monday morning. (Xinhua/Chen Jianli)
BEIJING, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- Cheering crowds, including wives and children of the three Chinese taikonauts, greeted here Monday morning the brave trio who fulfilled China's third manned space mission and returned to their training camp in Beijing's suburbs.
After a brief physical checkup upon the Shenzhou-7's safe landing Saturday afternoon on north China's grassland, Chinese taikonauts Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng were transferred back to the space program headquarters, or space town.
Vice chairman of the Central Military Commission Guo Boxiong led his ranking officers to greet the astronauts. In this space flight mission, colonel Zhai conducted the country's first ever space extravehicular activities (EVA) for about 20 minutes.
In a China-made EVA suit, Zhai waved the national flag of the People's Republic of China (PRC) to camera and said hello to the Earth via telecommunication networks. Zhai also retrieved a material experimental sample outside the orbiter. Liu, whose hometown is close to Zhai's in northeastern Heilongjiang Province, was backup to the commander.
Chinese taikonauts who have successfully
completed the country's third manned space mission salute after getting
off the plane in Beijing, capital of China, on Sept. 29, 2008.(Xinhua
General Guo, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, praised the crew for their courage and calmness during the space journey.
"The first EVA was so excited and opened a new chapter of the Chinese nation in exploring and peacefully utilizing space," said Guo.
The spacemen were also greeted by their wives and children. At a military airport in Beijing, the wives, all tearful but joyful, accompanied the husbands to a limousine which carried them back to the headquarters.
This was the only brief re-union of the couples before the three astronauts undergo a two-week preventive quarantine in the space town medical facilities.
Space medical scientists said space radioactivity, zero gravity in space and the virus-free environment in the spaceship might pose potential health hazards to astronauts. In addition, they still need time to adjust themselves to the Earth gravity environment.
Both Zhai's and Liu's hometowns were thrilled at seeing the unprecedented space mission and their safe landing.
Zhai Zhiqiang, a brother of the commanding astronaut's senior, said, "All of our family are proud of Zhigang who fulfilled the great hope of the nation."
Liu Zhisheng, father of Liu Boming, said, "I dearly want to hug my son when he comes home." The excited father said he was going to cook for the son his favorite food.
A new fad on space exploration is swirling Inner Mongolia where an area is reserved for landing of Chinese spaceships. Local people are very interested in buying books on space knowledge.
Since 2003, China has sent a total of six astronauts into space, including the country's first spaceman Yang Liwei, who is now a major general responsible for astronauts' training, and the first pair Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng.