SODOM & GOMORRAH: China’s human-operated Shenshou-9 spacecraft has successfully docked with the country’s space lab today. Millions of people in China watched the craft blast off into orbit on Saturday with the Chinese character “fu”, a symbol for good luck and fortune, displayed prominently outside the cockpit.
Other powers in the world have been cutting back their space programs with the worsening economic climate. This launch marks a time where China can stand on par with other countries that have typically dominated the political and scientific scene.
Shenzhou-9 launched at 6:37 P.M. In Beijing time. Aboard the craft was the first Chinese woman to be sent into space – Major Liu Yang from the Henan province. Liu had previously been a pilot in the Chinese air force, successfully landing a plane in an emergency after the craft had collided with a flock of birds after takeoff.
The Chinese government had strict regulations on who could fly on the mission. Chinese astronauts (taikonauts) are required to have good skin, no body odor, pleasant breath, and no dental cavities. A rumor circulating through China says that spaceflight has adverse effects on female fertility, but Major Liu won’t have to worry as she’s already a mother.
Chinese politicians have widely broadcasted the launch and docking as a sign of the country’s growing influence around the world. In addition to their manned space mission, Chinas has been working to develop a blue-water navy and an education system capable of producing engineers to meet or exceed the brain power of those in other countries.