Recently, an article written by China's first taikonaut, Yang Liwei describing his one day in space, triggered numerous discussions on social media platforms, with many saluting Yang's heroic spirit and marveling at the country's significant advancement in space technology.
Entitled, One Day in Space, Yang's article was recently included in the seventh-grade textbook in Chinese middle schools, and it was posted on Sina Weibo on Saturday, drawing tens of thousands of views within the first few hours. Many Weibo users were astonished at Yang's courage. "As the first person to go into space and live through so many unknowns, he must have a great will," said one netizen.
"In the documentary, the staff on the ground monitoring his heart rate, said that it didn't change when he took off. He had such a powerful mind. There was a lot to take on, being the first one," said another Weibo user.
Yang was 38 when he became the first Chinese person to go into space on the Shenzhou V, on Oct 15, 2003, making China the third country — after the US and Russia — to master manned space capabilities.
In his article, Yang recalled several breathtaking moments when he thought he would not make it back alive. "When the rocket lifted to a height about 30-40 kilometers above the ground, I felt it begin to vibrate violently, and it was extremely painful," he said.
Vibrations in the spacecraft below 10 Hz can damage the internal organs, and even threaten a person's life, Yang explained.
"Then an incident happened. The fierce vibrations felt like they were shattering my body, and the pain had grown unbearable. I thought I was going to die," Yang recalled.
The near-deadly moment lasted for 26 seconds. When it was finally over, the taikonaut, all alone in the vastness of space, felt like he had been reborn.
When ground control finally saw Yang blink his eyes through the surveillance camera, his colleagues burst out crying, "He's blinking! Yang is alive!"
In the article, Yang also described "mysterious knocking sounds" from outside the craft. He still does not know where they came from. He also described what the Earth, his country, and his city looked like from space. "I flew over Beijing and saw the mountains in daytime and sparkling lights at night. And there live my comrades and my loved ones."
Yang shared another interesting experience in the article. After several attempts from his cabin, he could not see the Great Wall, which many believed was the only manmade structure on Earth that could be seen from space. "The Shenzhou VI and VII taikonauts couldn't see it either," Yang wrote.
After his return, Yang reported the abnormal vibrations during the rocket's ascent to fellow scientists, who solved the issue before the Shenzhou VI's launch. According to Nie Haisheng, who took the Shenzhou VI craft to space in 2005, his first trip to space was much smoother, and he did not detect any vibrations.
In the following years, a number of new technologies have also been applied to the core cabin, including space Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, smart home applications, private phone communications, and a variety of over 120 kinds of space foods.
Eighteen years after his first trip to space, Yang said with a smile that he "envied" a lot that his fellow spacemen who now have such comfortable space accomodations, which show how China's space program has grown.