-
Advertorial
-
FOCUS
-
Guide
-
Lifestyle
-
Tech and Vogue
-
TechandScience
-
CHTF Special
-
Nanhan
-
Futian Today
-
Hit Bravo
-
Special Report
-
Junior Journalist Program
-
World Economy
-
Opinion
-
Diversions
-
Hotels
-
Movies
-
People
-
Person of the week
-
Weekend
-
Photo Highlights
-
Currency Focus
-
Kaleidoscope
-
Tech and Science
-
News Picks
-
Yes Teens
-
Fun
-
Budding Writers
-
Campus
-
Glamour
-
News
-
Digital Paper
-
Food drink
-
Majors_Forum
-
Speak Shenzhen
-
Business_Markets
-
Shopping
-
Travel
-
Restaurants
-
Hotels
-
Investment
-
Yearend Review
-
In depth
-
Leisure Highlights
-
Sports
-
World
-
QINGDAO TODAY
-
Entertainment
-
Business
-
Markets
-
Culture
-
China
-
Shenzhen
-
Important news
在线翻译:
szdaily -> In depth
No space for China’s stay-at-home taikonauts
    2018-January-23  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

ON an evening in November 2016, Deng Qingming went home to find his wife and his daughter had prepared a lavish spread of his favorite dishes and wine. He ran to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and, concealed by the sound of running water, cried like a baby.

Deng is a taikonaut who has never been to space. He was backup to Commander Jing Haipeng in the Shenzhou-11 mission.

Deng, 52, was a backup crew member for both Shenzhou-10 and Shenzhou-11 missions. Of China’s first batch of 14 trainees for the space program, six never made it onto the crew, including Deng.

Five of his peers retired in 2014 without a space flight, making Deng the last man standing, with his feet on the ground. “Sometimes I ask myself, isn’t it my duty to fly into space? If I don’t fly, how can I call myself a taikonaut?” Deng says.

When these existential crises come upon him, Deng practices calligraphy, which calms him. “I’m always ready for a mission,” he says, still dreaming after 20 years.

“They are as good as we are. They just didn’t have the opportunity,” says Jing Haipeng, who has flown on three missions. “They spent their best years preparing and waiting. They have lived up to the oath they took when joining the Corps. They are the heroes of our country, too!” he says about his landlocked comrades.

Li Qinglong jokes that the biggest achievement in his career is mastering Russian. Of course, his actual achievements are much bigger than that. He coached Yang Liwei, who in 2003 became the first Chinese in space aboard the Shenzhou-5.

Li, 56, and Wu Jie, 55, were selected two years before the Taikonaut Corps was set up. They were sent to Russia in 1996 for training. In the famed Star City near Moscow, the two crammed training courses that normally take four years to complete into just one, learning Russian as they went along. Wu even became a certified commander of the Soyuz spacecraft.

Wu dreamed of flying a Chinese spacecraft to dock with the Mir Space Station, but it was decommissioned in 2001.

Back to China, they were the first-picks for going into space. But after the Taikonaut Corps was founded, they were joined by many more candidates.

Wu was a back-up member on the Shenzhou-6 and Shenzhou-7 missions, but his space dreams remained empty. “You never saw a sad face from us when we failed to be chosen,” said Li. “Our determination would only increase, and we would work harder.”

But the sun set on his career in 2014, with Li and four other taikonauts retired from the team with zero flight hours logged. “We will always remember their names — Li Qinglong, Wu Jie, Chen Quan, Zhao Chuandong, and Pan Zhanchun,” says Jing Haipeng.

“It is a lifelong regret to be unable to go into space,” says Zhao. “But some of us still work for the cause in other ways. Our dream goes on in this regard.”

“Be it a crew member or backup, it is our job,” Chen Quan told Deng at the retirement ceremony. “Don’t give up!”

“Being backup doesn’t mean you don’t need to work. I must keep close watch in the control center and offer all I know in case of emergency,” Deng says. “Only when the crew returns to Earth will my mission be complete.” (Xinhua)

深圳报业集团版权所有, 未经授权禁止复制; Copyright 2010, All Rights Reserved.
Shenzhen Daily E-mail:szdaily@szszd.com.cn