Author Topic: The China Taikonauts Thread  (Read 41438 times)


Online Chris Bergin

Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #1 on: 12/07/2011 04:22 PM »
And here's Robert's article on this...

Names of China's secret spacemen – and women – 'uncovered' by collectible
http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-120711a.html

Offline tonyq

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #2 on: 12/14/2011 09:07 PM »
I did a radio interview today about my role the unmasking of the second taikonaut group.

One of the questions I was asked was:-

"Why do the Chinese keep the names of their taikonauts secret (until they have been assigned to a flight) when so many other aspects of their space programme are being conducted in a fairly open way?"

I did give an answer which represented a personal view, but it is a wholly legitimate question, and I'd be interested to read a cross section of views from the regulars on here.

I'll post my own answer in a day or two.

TIA

Offline parg1

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #3 on: 12/17/2011 08:49 PM »
I did a radio interview today about my role the unmasking of the second taikonaut group.

One of the questions I was asked was:-

"Why do the Chinese keep the names of their taikonauts secret (until they have been assigned to a flight) when so many other aspects of their space programme are being conducted in a fairly open way?"

I did give an answer which represented a personal view, but it is a wholly legitimate question, and I'd be interested to read a cross section of views from the regulars on here.

I'll post my own answer in a day or two.

TIA

Congratulations Tony on obtaining details of the Second Taikonaut group.

Considering the secrecy that the Soviet Space programme operated under; the Chinese are remarkably open. While we may not yet have individual photographs of all of the taikonauts selected in 1998; we know their names, and they are not hidden from sight until receiving a flight asignment. Some can be seen in the background of the farwell ceremony for Shenzhou 7 crew in their distinctive blue tracksuits, and a group photograph exists of  all 14 members at the time of the selection of Yang Liwei for Shenzhou 5. We even have some details of the 19 Candidates selected in 1971 for their first manned space effort. As well as some detals of female candidates for the Second Group.

I believe that the Chinese are not deliberately hidding the information about their taikonauts....they are just not publicising it expressly, the cover you discovered has been in circulation for some months; but until your detective work it's significance was not recognised. One is reminded of the days of the "Soviet Sleuths" when information on Cosmonaut selection was found by dedicated followers of the Soviet Manned Space Programme, who would then publish in magazines like Spaceflight In the case of the Chinese the information is there but it needs to be discovered and then as Tony has done..be made public.

Offline Phillip Clark

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #4 on: 12/18/2011 09:50 AM »
Of course, Rex Hall was the greatest of the cosmonaut team sleuths, and he and Neil da Costa were the first westerners to meet the Chinese trainees at Zvezdny Gorodok and getting the pictures to prove it.

Those pictures ended up being bootlegged by Mark Wade for his web site, of course.

Offline TALsite

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #5 on: 01/02/2012 11:28 AM »
...and I'd be interested to read a cross section of views from the regulars on here.

I'll post my own answer in a day or two.

I believe that the Chinese are not deliberately hidding the information about their taikonauts....

IMO I think all the secrecy is because the tight control of information that the Chinese government imposed on the population (internet, newspapers) ...
When a cosmonaut is assigned, all the secrecy turns to great fanfare of the regime.

Offline TALsite

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #6 on: 01/02/2012 11:31 AM »
Let’s post some images on this thread.  This is the best (biggest) shot of the first group (1998). 
I found it here:  http://www.spacefacts.de/groups/english/china1.htm

Please help if you can.  From left to right:

1.- Unknown 2.- Unknown 3.- Unknown 4.- Jie Wu? 5.- Qinglong Li? 6.- Haisheng Nie 7.- Liwei Yang 8.- Zhigang Zhai 9.- Junlong Fei 10.- Unknown 11.- Unknown 12.- Unknown 13.- Unknown 14.- Buoming Liu?

Offline tonyq

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #7 on: 01/02/2012 10:42 PM »
I am aware that the very same photo has been shown to Yang Liwei and Fei Junlong at an event outside China which they were attending, by a well-known researcher/author on all matters space, who would, I think, prefer to remain anonymous, for the pupose of this story.

After being a little surprised that anyone outside China had a copy of this image, they then proceeded to identify themselves and each of the flown or otherwise known guys(i.e. those officially named as back-ups on SZ-6 or 7).

That left 4 or 5 unaccounted for, but when asked to match the remaining faces to a printed list of the remaining names, they claimed that the image was not clear enough. This was plainly nonsense, they'd all been in the same training group for 10+ years at the time and must have know each other well.

I think this does illustrate that, for whatever reason, there Chinese are really sensitive about these people being formally identified, before they are assigned, and that Yang and Fei were well briefed on what was, and wasn't, information in the 'public domain'.

 

Offline tonyq

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #8 on: 01/02/2012 10:51 PM »
As the request was to post more photos, here are some more images of the two female candidates which have been culled from Chinese websites, but which haven't been published before in connection with their selection for the space programme.
« Last Edit: 01/02/2012 10:53 PM by tonyq »

Offline parg1

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #9 on: 01/03/2012 10:19 PM »
Further to the Group Photograph, I believe that T-11 is Buoming not T-14. I do not think that T-5 is Qinglong as the photo I have found below shows the candidate to the right of Haisheng in more detail
 
Photographs also exist of the unflown taikonauts in the background of the welcoming ceremony for the Shenzhou 7 crew and can be accessed at
http://www.astronaut.ru/as_china/text/sel04.htm.


Offline TALsite

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #10 on: 01/03/2012 10:39 PM »
I am aware that the very same photo has been shown to Yang Liwei and Fei Junlong
.
.
That left 4 or 5 unaccounted for, but when asked to match the remaining faces to a printed list of the remaining names, they claimed that the image was not clear enough. This was plainly nonsense, they'd all been in the same training group for 10+ years at the time and must have know each other well.

Watching the group photo it seems that the photographer is more interested on the "State Commission"  :(

Thank you for the new photos Tony.


Photographs also exist of the unflown taikonauts in the background of the welcoming ceremony for the Shenzhou 7 crew and can be accessed at
http://www.astronaut.ru/as_china/text/sel04.htm.

This is a very interesting link.  And this one http://www.astronaut.ru/as_china/text/face.htm have interesting captures of background taikonauts at the bottom of the page.

Edit:
Link was wrong
« Last Edit: 01/03/2012 10:41 PM by TALsite »

Offline Liss

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #11 on: 02/18/2012 07:14 PM »
Let’s post some images on this thread.  This is the best (biggest) shot of the first group (1998). 
I found it here:  http://www.spacefacts.de/groups/english/china1.htm

Please help if you can.  From left to right:

1.- Unknown 2.- Unknown 3.- Unknown 4.- Jie Wu? 5.- Qinglong Li? 6.- Haisheng Nie 7.- Liwei Yang 8.- Zhigang Zhai 9.- Junlong Fei 10.- Unknown 11.- Unknown 12.- Unknown 13.- Unknown 14.- Buoming Liu?


The best understanding of today is:

1. Li Qinglong; 2. Liu Wang; 3. Chen Quan; 4.- Wu Jie; 5. Unknown; 6. Nie Haisheng; 7. Yang Liwei; 8. Zhai Zhigang; 9. Fei Junlong; 10. Unknown; 11. Liu Boming; 12. Unknown; 13. Unknown; 14.- Jing Haipeng

Four names for unknowns are: Deng Qingming, Pan Zhanchun, Zhang Xiaoguang and Zhao Chuandong.
This message reflects my personal opinion based on open sources of information.

Offline tonyq

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #12 on: 05/09/2012 07:27 PM »
A senior Chinese official has confirmed the inclusion of a female taikonaut in the crew of Shenzhou 9.

Speaking at a ceremony, held on 5th May, to mark the departure of the Long March booster to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, Chinese Academy of Launch Technology, Commander in Chief, Liu Yu commented that the rocket would be used to carry China's first woman into space, together with two other astronauts.

The Shenzhou 9 spacecraft itself has been at Jiuquan since 9th April.

The Chinese media, and officials, are still referring to launch within a 'June to August' window, but with the hardware all at Jiuquan imminently, it is clear they are working towards a launch at the earlier part of that timeframe.

There has been no official indication of the identity of the Shenzhou 9 prime and back-up crews. However, some Chinese language forums have reported that PLAAF pilot, Major Liu Yang, 33, has been already selected for the Shenzhou 9 prime crew, and will become China's first woman in space, but it is impossible to judge whether these reports have any veracity. Chinese officials have previously said that the crew would not be selected until the final days before launch.

Offline BUAA

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #13 on: 05/14/2012 07:23 PM »
I did a radio interview today about my role the unmasking of the second taikonaut group.

One of the questions I was asked was:-

"Why do the Chinese keep the names of their taikonauts secret (until they have been assigned to a flight) when so many other aspects of their space programme are being conducted in a fairly open way?"

I did give an answer which represented a personal view, but it is a wholly legitimate question, and I'd be interested to read a cross section of views from the regulars on here.

I'll post my own answer in a day or two.

TIA

I believe the reason for not disclosing the identities of the astronauts was to protect them from the fame and external interruptions. The celebrity status of the astronauts (even for those who haven't flown yet) can well become a burden. For example, they may get apporached by the press for exclusive interviews. Their fame could be used by the local governments of their hometowns for their own publicity. Some people may even try to use the astronauts' special status to connect with senior leadership, etc.

All of these are very unique in the Chinese culutre of 'Guanxi' (connections), and can be very disruptive to their training. In fact, the names of the two female astronaut trainees were first disclosed by the newspapers of their hometown, not state media. I'm sure this wasn't in the original plan.
« Last Edit: 05/14/2012 07:25 PM by BUAA »

Offline tonyq

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #14 on: 05/16/2012 02:36 PM »
I believe the reason for not disclosing the identities of the astronauts was to protect them from the fame and external interruptions. The celebrity status of the astronauts (even for those who haven't flown yet) can well become a burden. For example, they may get apporached by the press for exclusive interviews. Their fame could be used by the local governments of their hometowns for their own publicity. Some people may even try to use the astronauts' special status to connect with senior leadership, etc.

All of these are very unique in the Chinese culutre of 'Guanxi' (connections), and can be very disruptive to their training. In fact, the names of the two female astronaut trainees were first disclosed by the newspapers of their hometown, not state media. I'm sure this wasn't in the original plan.

I'd agree with all that you say there. In addition, the fact that the programme has a very heavy military influence and that all the taikonauts, including the women, are military officers, must shape their whole approach to media exposure and relations.

 

Offline TALsite

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #15 on: 06/03/2013 11:18 AM »
This quotes were from the SZ-9 thread.  I post it here because I think it's most accurate, and add some clues to the SZ-10 crew composition.
I'm not saying the Chinese are following exactly the same traditions than the
russians but...

Here are the two crews.
From left, Wang Yaping, ??, NieHaisheng, Liu Yang, ??, Jing Haipen

Russians (and foreigners flying on a Soyuz) only plant trees if they are prime crew and they haven't been launched from Baikonur previously

Two more photos of one of the crews planting trees at JSLC:


Watching the picture planting trees, the man on the right is Jing Haipen, and
watching the haircut of the woman (is short on her ear side) I think isn't the identified as Wang Yaping on the “two crews together” picture.

Hope the Chinese authorities will announce crews soon... :)

So, watching who flew the SZ-9 mission we can assume, Chinese follow the same traditions as Russians.

Offline TALsite

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #16 on: 06/03/2013 11:20 AM »
This is a curious image, which I initially thought showed the SZ-9 back-up crew arriving at the launch centre on 9th June.

However on closer review, it is Nie Haisheng, Liu Wang and Wang Yaping, i.e. two back-ups and one prime crew member.

Does this raise a question over whether the final crews were not actually settled at this stage?

Do we know if the Chinese fly their prime and back-up crews on different aircraft, like the Russians?

It may be that they all flew together and simply piled off the plane in a random sequence, but then we do have a 'crew' here Commander, Docking pilot and woman, so it doesn't look like an arbitrary disembarkation.

Thoughts anyone? :-\

I re-posted this image from (great analist) tonyq because he didn't get any answer.
Assuming the Chinese follow the Russian traditions, and that it's not logical to fly mixed crews, I think that this was the Backup crew, but in the pre-launch training, officials swapped the docking-operator: Liu Wang instead of Zhang Xiaoguan.

Offline tonyq

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #17 on: 06/03/2013 04:25 PM »
Thanks for the kind words TAL.

Actually I did get an answer to this mystery eventually, from the Chinese language book on the SZ-9 mission.

It contains this photo of the crew being presented to officials before leaving the astronaut training facility in Beijing on 9th June 2012.

This shows that the prime crew when they left Beijing was Jing/Liu/Liu.

Witnesses have confirmed that they departed/arrived on two planes, in groups of three. Why they were shuffled for that journey is a mystery, but it does seem that there was no last minute crew change.

Offline Liss

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #18 on: 06/04/2013 09:38 AM »

The best understanding of today is:

1. Li Qinglong; 2. Liu Wang; 3. Chen Quan; 4. Wu Jie; 5. Unknown; 6. Nie Haisheng; 7. Yang Liwei; 8. Zhai Zhigang; 9. Fei Junlong; 10. Unknown; 11. Liu Boming; 12. Unknown; 13. Unknown; 14. Jing Haipeng

Four names for unknowns are: Deng Qingming, Pan Zhanchun, Zhang Xiaoguang and Zhao Chuandong.



The best understanding of today is:

1. Li Qinglong; 2. Liu Wang; 3. Chen Quan; 4. Wu Jie; 5. Pan Zhanchun; 6. Nie Haisheng; 7. Yang Liwei; 8. Zhai Zhigang; 9. Fei Junlong; 10. Zhao Chuandong; 11. Liu Boming; 12. Zhang Xiaoguang; 13. Deng Qingming; 14. Jing Haipeng

« Last Edit: 06/04/2013 09:38 AM by Liss »
This message reflects my personal opinion based on open sources of information.

Offline tonyq

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Re: The China Taikonauts Thread
« Reply #19 on: 06/10/2013 03:45 PM »
So, now that we know the SZ-10 crew, for certain, and their are strong rumours, but not officially confirmed about the back-up crew (Liu/Pan/Deng?) we can examine what this means for the team overall.

It seems that there is a stong chance that Li Qinglong, ChenQuan, Wu Jie are, for whatever reason, no longer eligible for flight assignments. Yang Liwei, Fei Junlong and Zhai Zhigang are probably 'grounded' either by their current jobs or by their iconic status (or both). Jing Haipeng may also fall into this group; would he fly a third time?

We know nothing about Zhao Chuandong, but it has been reported elsewhere that he too is retired.

So, we are down to a likely maximum of six of the original group, plus the five 2010 men and the two girls. Liu Yang is probably grounded too.

If they plan just two manned flights to TG-2, they will need at least nine crew members, including three veterans, so it seems that they will barely have enough, and if one or more of the veterans is eliminated between now and then, or they actually plan three flights, they will be in trouble.

It is possible that Wang Yaping is being groomed as a future 'veteran', perhaps as insurance. According to one media report today she has been trained to pilot the manual docking, and there is video of her doing just that, in the SZ simulator.

Presumably, therefore, we will see a new recruitment process begin, fairly soon, perhaps even being announced during SZ-10's mission.


   

Tags: Taikonauts