Yuanwang No 3 arrives at the dock of the maritime monitoring and control center. (Photo/Xinhua)
The crew of the Yuanwang are the unsung heroes of China's space exploration missions
There is the sea, vast and endless. And there is a group of people who dream of the sky. They work and live in the ocean all the year round where the ship is virtually their home. They are "farsighted people" who are engaged in the task of monitoring and controlling spacecraft.
Since the setting up of the Asian No 2 satellite monitoring and control mission in 1995, whether it is the launch of the Shenzhou-1 spacecraft, the convergence of the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft and the Tiangong-1, or the exploration of the moon or the Beidou navigation satellite, they are an integral part of China's space development.
Yuanwang No 3 on a mission in South Pacific Ocean.(Photo/Xinhua)
"The Yangtze River No 3 found the target, the Yangtze River No 3 tracked normally." When these messages are received, it is the Yuanwang No 3 ship that starts to perform in a predetermined sea area.
Yuanwang No 3 is China's second-generation aerospace ocean-going survey vessel. And it is mainly responsible for offshore monitoring and control of spacecraft and satellites. Since its commissioning, it has sailed 52 times, going as far as the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean.
So far it has completed 83 major sea monitoring and control tasks successfully, setting a record for the longest total voyage, the highest number of tasks performed, and a 100 percent success rate.
Behind the success of these missions are lonely and dim figures comprising the crew of the Yuanwang.