Yang Liwei (杨利伟) was born in June 21, 1965
in the county of Suizhong
(according to the local Communist Party Committee this region is famous for its white pears), in the northeast of China
's Liaoning Province
. He attended Suizhong County Number Two High School
. In September 1983
he joined the Chinese People's Liberation Army
(PLA), specifically the No. 8 Aviation College
of the PLA Air Force
. Four years later he graduated with an equivalent of a bachelor's degree. By 2003
he had 1350 hours flying. He was selected as a taikonaut
for the January 1998
intake along with 13 other fighter pilots. He had achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel
before the flight and was promoted to Colonel
afterwards. And like all the taikonauts he is on the small side at 1.68 metres tall (5'6").
These fourteen had been chosen from 1500 candidates. The 14 underwent intensive training at Astronaut Training Base in Beijing. The training included physical, psychological and technical areas. Along with this they received schooling that would be familar to all astronaut and cosmonaut trainees - aviation dynamics, air dynamics, geophysics, meteorology, astronomy, space navigation, and the design principles and structure of rockets and spacecraft. They also received survival training in various regions that they could possible land during an emergency.
The fourteen were whittled down to a possible group of 3 which included Yang.
He was selected as the taikonaut that would fly the first mission, Shenzhou 5, which launched October 15, 2003. This 14 hour/21 orbit flight was the first time that a Chinese citizen had been launched by a Chinese rocket.
His first words from space were reported to be
“感觉良好。” ("I feel good and my conditions are normal.") Wang remained in the reentry module of the Shenzhou throughout the flight and wore his spacesuit at all times. He objectives included test the systems on the spacecraft and testing procedures for later flights. He also ate one meal which consisted of rice, spicy and sour shredded meat, and diced chicken meat and a serving of medicinal herbs and tonics. He spoke to the Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan on the mission's sixth orbit. He also spoke to his wife and 8 year old son.
On his return he became a national hero, and helped a Chinese Communist Party gain support after a series of corruption allegations surfaced.
Thanks to gn0sis for the Chinese Characters