Chinese taikonauts Zhai Zhigang (center),
Liu Boming (right) and Jing
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 spaceflight
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
General Guo, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission,
praised the crew for their courage and calmness during the space
"The first EVA was so excited and opened a new chapter of the
Chinese nation in exploring and peacefully utilizing space," said
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
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.