Great Hero Yang
In 2003, China's first astronaut stepped out of his space capsule and into the limelight.
- By James R. Hansen
- Air & Space magazine, March 2007
(Page 4 of 4)
As for Yang, it’s uncertain whether he will fly in space again. He has become an icon, lionized in the state-run press not only as the country’s first man in space but as a star student, communist party member, devoted family man, and national treasure. Even his eight-year-old son became a celebrity, showing up over and over again in the Chinese media. On one occasion, party officials visited the boy’s school and bestowed on his class the honorary title of “Space Squadron.” Standing beside a model rocket, young Ningkong gave a speech praising his father’s accomplishment. “People asked me if I was afraid about Daddy going into space, and I said ‘Not a bit,’ because I knew that China’s space technology was very advanced and Daddy was really awesome. I want to be like Daddy and travel to outer space someday.’ ”
With two Shenzhou flights accomplished and more to follow, it seems likely that other Chinese youth of Ningkong’s generation will do exactly that—and perhaps someday reach the moon and Mars. Judging from the public reaction to Yang’s flight, the Chinese people are excited by their prospects in space—and by the man who led the way.