Junlong (left) and Nie Haisheng (right), two former fighter pilots from
southern China, will be in space soon aboard China's second manned spacecraft
Shenzhou-6 Wednesday morning
Nie Haisheng, 41 years old, came from Zaoyang
City, Hubei Province. He was among the final candidates for China's first
manned space flight and saw Yang Liwei off
at the launch pad two years ago. Now 24 months have passed, Yang saw him
off for a new space mission. In the eye of Yang, Nie was persistent and
dauntless, and at the same time, prudent. "He doesn't talk much. He is
a hard-working and cooperative guy," Yang said.
A cowboy and the sixth child of a poor family
with eight children, Nie cultivated a sort of patience and diligence that
were seldom seen in common people.
In 1984, Nie entered the flight training school
of the Air Force. On June 12, 1989, he was in an independent flight for
the first time and the only engine of the plane came to a halt suddenly
more than 4,000 meters above the ground. The plane dived fast, and ground
control ordered Nie to abandonthe vehicle and escape by parachute. But
Nie risked his life trying to bring the plane back safely until it dropped
to a heightof 400-500 meters from the ground. Upon his narrow escape, Nie
wasawarded a third-class merit citation for his extraordinary courage.
Though selected as one of the final three
candidates for the Shenzhou-5 mission two years ago, Nie has gone through
strict screening procedures this time. "We should never slacken our efforts
to explore the mystery of space," Nie said.