A picture always tells an interesting story and the picture above tells a momentous story of national accomplishment for China and its space program. Central Military Commission Chairman Hu Jintao, jaundiced but with his liver spots airbrushed out, is making a telephone call to the brave taikonauts, who are aboard the Shenzhou-9 space craft and conducting the docking mission with the Taigong-1 orbiter. The picture of Chairman Hu, clearly in the lobby of a bank, juxtaposed with the picture of the Chinese taikonauts, clearly in a meth lab in the Utah desert, reminds me of a few things. First, I should not snark about people attempting to accomplish great things or a national leader who is extremely proud of their accomplishment. The snark would be reduced if only I could get PLA Daily to write a better English language article (sorry, it won’t let me link directly to the article). Since I can’t link you directly to it, I will quote a few passages and comment on the photos.
The article begins by setting the stage with Chairman Hu at the Beijing Aerospace Control Center surrounded by key leaders. Not until the fourth line written does it get into the topic of conversation.
“You have spent nearly 10 days in space, we care about you. How are you feeling?” asked the president.
Maybe open with the above stilted line instead of making sure all the senior leadership had their attendance blocks checked? Isn’t this about those taikonauts and China’s success, and not about political strap-hangers getting in on the lauds? Maybe the chairman could ask Xinhua News Wire (the original source for the story) to better translate his quote and give it a little more flare and make it not sound so forced. And so it goes, the article continues, saying that “China has completely grasped space rendezvous and docking technologies.” I would say let’s maybe limit that claim to the team that put those taikonauts in space and the space men themselves. I wouldn’t want the guy hawking pirated DVDs to conduct a space rendezvous operation. But, ok, you are proud and this is China’s victory dance in the end zone.
Further reading the article, it appears that the mission commander, Jing Haipeng, and Chairman Hu are merely repeating scripted mantras back and forth.
Jing said that all work was going smoothly, the manual docking had been completed successfully and the crew members were doing scientific experiments as planned.
Hu praised the astronauts for their excellent performance in China’s first manual rendezvous and docking mission, which showcased the country’s full command of space docking technologies.
So, again, it makes me think of a few things. First, loosen up, talk about how you are scared as shit of flying and that those guys are totally b.a. for getting in a rocket and flying to the heavens. Second, let’s get some new publicity folks in there and quit airbrushing your photo. It’s becoming a parody.
Much better. Some liver spots, a normal, healthyish complexion and a little camera time for all the engineers and rocket scientists who put a lot of hard work into this mission. Ok, so what’s up with the different colored phones? Why is the phone to space white? What do the red phones do? What kind of call plan do you get on that space phone? I’ve been looking to put in a landline in my house and maybe China Telecom or Huawei is the way to go. Anyway, congratulations to the space men (and woman) who have brought about another successful space mission for Chairman Hu, his coterie, China and all those other people working on it. Congrats!