How two astronauts came close to realizing their ultimate dream

By Guo Kai | | Updated: 2016-11-18 11:10

How two astronauts came close to realizing their ultimate dream

The Soyuz spacecraft [File photo]

14 astronauts in first batch

In Nov 1997, Wu received a commander certificate of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft from the Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Centre's chief. The certificate entitled Wu's qualifications to fly any Soyuz spacecraft into the space.

"Now I have the Soyuz spacecraft's commander certificate, and when I return to China I will get a Chinese certificate, and fly Chinese spacecraft into space to dock with the Mir space station?" Wu said at that time.

Wu and Li were regarded as the most favorite to fulfill China's dream to fly into the space at that time. Wu's such dream did not come true, and the Mir space station was destroyed in the atmosphere on March 23, 2001.

In Jan 1998, China recruited 14 members into its first astronaut team. Wu who received the commander certificate and Li Qinglong joined the team as instructors and astronauts. Other 12 were pilots from China's air force.

China drew lessons from the experiences of the United States and Russia in selecting and training astronauts, with about 50 percent candidates failing the training.

However, when the country carried out the evaluation of the 14 candidates in July 2003 before the first manned space mission, all of them were qualified for independently carrying out space flight.

They were good enough, but one thing was that not everyone had a chance to carry out space flight mission.

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