Chinese astronauts take part in Olympic torch relayJune 29th, 2008 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS
Jiuquan (China), June 29 (Xinhua) Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng, the crew of Shenzhou spacecraft 6, carried the Olympic flame Saturday in the torch relay at the “Dongfeng Space City” in northwest China’s Gansu province. A total of 22 bearers, most of whom were experts in China’s spaceflight programme, took part in the relay in the satellite launch base here.
Fei, 43, and Nie, 44, had been the crew of Shenzhou 6, the second human spaceflight of China. Shenzhou 6 was launched Oct 12, 2005 on a Long March rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
The opening ceremony was staged on the movable launch complex within the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center as Fei ran down the first leg from the launch rack at 8:10 a.m. local time.
The lighting of torch adopted a method of time countdown as the rocket launch does in the backdrop of stage.
“It’s a great honour not just for me, but also for the whole family of cosmonauts and China’s space programme technology,” said Fei.
For Nie, carrying the torch in the 15th place is also one of the best memories. “I am happy with this, even happier than my 41th birthday,” said Nie, who celebrated his 41st birthday in space.
Wang Yongzhi, 76, the chief designer of China’s manned spacecraft programme, made an exhibition of the torch on the ninth floor of Umbilical Tower, part of the launch complex.
Wang, who was born in northeast Liaoning province, is an aerospace scientist and academician at the Chinese Academy of Engineering. He was awarded the nation’s highest scientific and technological prize, State Preeminent Science and Technology Award in 2003.
The relay, complying with the theme of science and technology, passed the launch field, Ruoshui River, Heaven Flying park, Wentian Pavilion and Central Avenue, and reached the closing ceremony site, Dongfeng Square, at 9:10 a.m..
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