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Xi greets astronauts, lauds space program

Hits:  UpdateTime:2016-12-21 11:41:50

President Xi Jinping hailed China's latest achievements in space exploration

and stressed the importance of scientific innovation in the field while meeting

on Tuesday with Tiangong II and Shenzhou XI astronauts Jing Haipeng and

Chen Dong.

Xi had lengthy chats with Jing and Chen while shaking hands with them at

Beijing's Great Hall of the People, as seen on China Central Television's

evening news program.

Xi said China's progress in space technology is indicative of the nation's

capability to innovate and create. The mission's progress has greatly inspired

Chinese people to go further in innovation, he said.

Xi also spoke with representatives of those involved in research and testing for

the latest space mission. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of

China Central Committee, was accompanied by six other top leaders of the Party.

Xi applauded Jing's three missions in space, with the most recent being as a

major general. He also asked the astronauts how they felt after returning to

Earth and if everything was all right.

The president also mentioned that Jing spent his 50th birthday in space.

"You had a very high-level birthday," Xi said with a smile.

During a later address, Xi said: "More than a month ago, the mission was

successfully completed. I spoke with the two astronauts. And just like every

one of you, I felt very happy, very proud."

Xi noted that this year marks the 60th anniversary of China's spaceflight

development, and the mission should be noted as a milestone in history.

He welcomed the fact that talent, especially the young, is drawn to the program.

The Shenzhou XI spacecraft, launched on Oct 17, docked two days later with

the Tiangong II space lab, where Jing and Chen lived for 30 days. It was

the longest Chinese astronauts had spent in space, surpassing the 15-day

Shenzhou X mission of June 2013.

The mission tested, among other things, the spacecraft's ability to meet, dock

and return. It is China's sixth manned space flight and is expected to pave

the way for a permanent space station, which the country plans to start

building in 2018 and put into service around 2022.

Jing previously was a member of the Shenzhou VII mission in 2008 and

the Shenzhou IX mission in 2012.

Chen is the first man in the second generation of Chinese astronauts to

make a spaceflight. Two of his female counterparts, Liu Yang and

Wang Yaping, have traveled to space.

See more at:http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2016-12/21/content_27727423.htm

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