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China, Yang glow in coverage after spacecraft launch

world Updated: Jun 17, 2012 23:23 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

After months of negative international coverage over the scandal involving the sacked Communist leader Bo Xilai and blind activist Chen Guangcheng’s escape from house arrest, China seems to be glowing in the aftermath of the successful launch of Shenzhou 9 spacecraft.

On Sunday, powerful legislator Wu Bangguo said the manned space programme was the symbol of the Communist Party of China (CPC)-ruled China’s increasing power and strength.

“We can proudly say that the program has become a key indicator of the prosperous development of socialism with Chinese characteristics”, said Wu in Jiuquan while greeting representatives of the ground crew of the mission, state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

The Shenzhou-9 spaceship was successfully launched on Saturday and is scheduled to conduct the country's first manned space docking with space lab module Tiangong-1 on Monday

The mission is important for the second part of China's three-step manned space mission and will have profound influences, said Wu, chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee.

The pride of place and mention, of course, remained with Liu Yang, the first Chinese woman astronaut.

Reports were carried Sunday on what changes had to made in the spacecraft for making it more comfortable for her – curtain for privacy, special underwear and sports suits, low-fat food with more vegetables and chocolates.

The state media didn’t let go the opportunity to quote international experts – in international media – praising China’s sky-high efforts.

“Joan Johnson-Freese, a US space policy expert and professor at the US Naval War College on Rhode Island, said China has already successfully implemented its manned space program and now was showing its more advanced human spaceflight capability in docking,” Xinhua reported, adding: “China has become one of the pioneer countries in space exploration, and other countries will be glad to see China's progress, she said.”

The news agency quoted the New York Times saying that while the mission itself is not unusual, it extended China's remarkable pace in developing its space program.

“It is the speed with which China is ticking off these boxes in developing their program that is interesting,” said Jeff Kueter, president of the George C Marshall Institute, which focuses on how science is used in making public policy.