China / Highlights

Happy 50th birthday astronaut Jing Haipeng

( Updated: 2016-10-25 10:54
Happy 50th birthday astronaut Jing Haipeng

Chinese astronaut Jing Haipeng waves his hand inside the Tiangong II space laboratory after Shenzhou XI docked on Oct 19. [Photo/Xinhua]

People across the country extended their best wishes to Jing Haipeng, commander of the Shenzhou XI space mission, on his 50th birthday aboard space lab Tiangong II on Monday.

Jing already holds the record for spending most hours in space by any Chinese astronaut and is the only one to have taken part in three missions. Now he is also the country's oldest astronaut in service.

China Daily, along with other media companies, celebrated his birthday on multimedia platforms, triggering a wave of internet users' wishes.

A netizen, named "Cindy on the way", left a message on China Daily's Sina Weibo account, saying "Happy Birthday, my dear hero!"

Another Weibo user, named Wu Jiaxiu, wished good health to Jing, and said that Jing deserves respect as he is fighting for the glory of the country.

"Because of him, we no longer have to admire only Swedish (table tennis) player Jan-Ove Waldner, US boxer Evander Holyfield or tennis great Martina Navratilova. Because of him, we no longer sigh over lack of Chinese heroes," read a post on People's Liberation Army's Navy account.

Xinhua News Agency has collected over 10,000 birthday wishes for Jing from children from all over the world, including messages, pictures and videos sent from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as countries including the United States and Sweden.

"Happy birthday Uncle Jing Haipeng, 'Tashi delek'," said a Tibetan primary school girl using the Tibetan greeting for good luck and best wishes. She also said that it was her dream to become an astronaut.

Jing, together with his colleague, Chen Dong, were launched into space onboard Shenzhou XI on Oct 17 and docked with the Tiangong II space laboratory on Oct 19.

The current mission is Jing's third in space. Previously, he spent 68 hours aboard Shenzhou VII in 2008 and 13 days on Shenzhou IX in 2012.

"The best way to serve the country, as an astronaut, is to take on more missions; to use our own hands to implement the wisdom, ideas and concept of scientists; to bring back useful data; and to conduct scientific experiments that will benefit mankind," Jing was quoted as saying by the People's Daily website.

Cheng Yingqi with China Daily, and Xinhua contributed to the story.

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