Young Helmsmen Steer Shenzhou At Mission Control
Beijing - Jan 29, 2002
Signs of launch preparations for Shenzhou-3 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) continue to emerge with mission controllers at the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center (BACCC) said to be working around the clock to get ready to track the unmanned test flight.
China Youth Daily reported Jan. 20 that the controllers, most of them young technicians, gave up their holidays to work at the Beijing Aerospace City and where they routinely put in 15 hour days while practically "living" in the control center.
Since the last Shenzhou mission, these BACCC controllers have made improvements and honed their skills in key areas such as transparent flight control, high-precision orbit determination, automated flight plan generation, reentry control, high-speed data processing, and visualization of monitoring displays.
Completed in March 1996, BACCC is the "center with the task of command dispatching, flight controlling, analytical planning, and data processing for China's manned space program, in addition, "BACCC can also offer foreign tracking services," said Sui Qisheng, Director of BACCC, in an interview with Science and Technology Daily on Nov. 7, 2001.
"With command communications information processing, monitoring display and flight controlling that are very comprehensive, respond rapidly and calculate precisely, the modernized control system is the 'nerve center' to command and control a spacecraft in flight," explained Sui.
As the prime control center of the Shenzhou missions, BACCC had successfully handled the first two unmanned test flights in Nov. 1999 and Jan. 2001.
In front of many rows of monitors and technician consoles are four large projection screens which display the current status of a mission both numerically and graphically including supporting animations.
At the computer center technicians can process data from China's domestic and international tracking station and its fleet of three tracking ships enabling detailed monitoring of flight conditions.
The several hundred computers and communications processors in the computer center are connected in a high-speed, distributed-processing data network to receive, process and transmit mission data. Through this connection the control center links with the orbiting spacecraft via China's tracking stations and ships.
Be it a missile test in the northwest desert, a satellite launch from Xichang in the southwestern Sichuan, a rocket splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, or a spacecraft traveling in space BACCC can provide support said Sui.
Young Blood At The Helm
For example all the directors and deputy directors of technical departments completed their education after 1984, and the heads of specialist groups came out of schools after 1995. These young cadres have doctorate and master degrees or are undergraduates, and they are the mainstay of the control center.
The young leaders, specialists and technicians are dedicated to their work despite the non-competitive salaries offered when compared to the private sectors.
He told China Youth Daily, "I have a friend who works at a private firm and earns a yearly salary of RMB$500,000 [US$60,240]. Compared to him, others would feel a sense of unevenness. But I always maintain this perspective: [you can] live with more money, or live with less money; [so] don't consider money that important."
Liu Chengxue, leader of the planning group of the trajectory office, shared the view: "Our group had labored more than a year just for the 9-day mission of SZ-2 ... Although working elsewhere [in the private sector] would have more opportunities to make money; fetching RMB$8,000 a month [US$965], I am not leaving here because I hope to do the work that I wish." The 29-year-old Liu is a 1995 graduate in applied mechanics from the National University of Defence Technology in Changsha in the southern Hunan Province.
The huge disparity in salary was a bit of a surprise to Cui Xiaofeng, the lead of the simulation group in the software office. "I had thought that this kind of work at BACCC would have a salary difference than others, but not this much.
"However, I believe that nine out of ten boys cherish aerospace and military high technologies," the 30-year-old postgraduate said smilingly. Cui graduated in 1996 with high marks from the Xi'an Jiaotong [Transportation] University in northern central province of Shaanxi.
BACCC takes training and retention of young talents seriously. Veterans provide guidance and support to young workers to develop their nascent careers, sometimes in small partnership teams.
Director Sui said that the center has been using an "undertakings" model that promotes talents, the objectives to focus those talents, the tasks to better train in these talents, and the environment to attract talent. Finally the center has the ability to quickly foster talents by providing an 'express lane' to further training and education.
The control center links the goals of technological breakthroughs and missions together as a training ground for young talents. Through this nurturing approach, more than 100 young cadres are top level specialists and the average age of the leaders in key technology programs is 28.
To meet the rapid development work on national defense technologies in the 21st century and the demand of skilled workers, BACCC has implemented the "521 talent project" plan.
In terms of team building BACCC plans that before 2005 it would nurture a core group of 150 specialized technicians and 50 leaders of various scientific disciplines, all of whom would be under 45 years old, and five nationally recognized young and middle aged specialists.
The center has asked two universities in Beijing, Tsinghua University and Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, to offer master degree engineering classes for employees. To date more than 50 young cadres have completed the training.
Each year the control center sets aside funds of RMB$3 million (US$361,450) for special expenditure. This includes significant rewards to "front line" young technicians who have made outstanding contributions, early promotion of excellent workers to specialized technical levels, and studying abroad. Thus far more than 100 employees have been sent to study in the U.S., France and U.K.
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Chinese Space Workers Celebrate Their Labour To Launch Shenzhou
Beijing - Jan 9, 2002
The third unmanned test flight of the Shenzhou ("Magic Vessel" or "Divine Vessel") spacecraft appears to be imminent as thousands of technicians worked through the New Year at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre (JSLC) in northwestern Gansu Province. People's Liberation Army (PLA) Daily reported Dec. 31 that thousands of technicians and military personnel volunteered to cancel their holidays so that they could continue their duties at the "testing frontline" - a cryptic reference to the Shenzhou-3 (SZ-3) launch.