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China's "father of space program" mourned across country
2009/11/02

People in deep sorrow come to express condolences in a small mourning hall that was set up at Qian Xuesen's home, Beijing, Nov. 1, 2009. Qian, also known as Tsien Hsue-shen, died of illness in Beijing Saturday morning at the age of 98. He led the country's missile and aviation programs and played a significant role in developing China's first man-made earth satellite. (Xinhua/Gao Xueyu) 

China's "father of space technology" dies at 98

    BEIJING, Nov. 1 (Xinhua) -- The death of China's legendary scientist Qian Xuesen has plunged many Chinese into deep sorrow and people across the country mourned the scientist, known as China's "father of space program," in different ways.

    Qian, also known as Tsien Hsue-shen, died of illness in Beijing Saturday morning at the age of 98. He led the country's missile and aviation programs and played a significant role in developing China's first man-made earth satellite.

    A small mourning hall was set up at Qian's home for the public. On Sunday morning, people with flowers showed up at Qian's home despite heavy snow to express condolences to his family.

Citizens in deep sorrow come to Qian Xuesen's home to express condolences in Beijing, Nov. 1, 2009.  (Xinhua/Gao Xueyu)

    Sun Jiadong, chief designer of China's lunar probe project, came with a bunch of white chrysanthemum.

    "In the old days when he guided our young people in doing academic work, he had always encouraged us to ask questions and exchange views with us," Sun said.

    "His 99th birthday was only more than a month away, and we had thought of sending him greeting cards. Who knows......" he said sadly.

    Several students from Tsinghua University waited downstairs for a long time before they could get in the hall.

    "May he rest in peace. We will do our best to complete his unfinished work," said one of them named Wang Peng.

Local residents of Xiaoying Alley lay the white chrisanthemum to mourn for the just passed-away China's keystone space scientist Qian Xuesen, in front of his portrait on a stone tablet in his hometown of Hangzhou, east China's Zhejiang province, Oct. 31, 2009. (Xinhua/Xu Zuoheng)

    More visitors simply stood downstairs and look up to the hall in silence.

 

Teachers of the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) present flowers to the statue of China's legendary scientist Qian Xuesen who had taught in USTC, and express their condolences to Qian's death, in Hefei, east China's Anhui Province, Nov. 1, 2009. Qian, also known as Tsien Hsue-shen, died of illness in Beijing Saturday morning. Qian led the country's missile and aviation programs and played a significant role in developing China's first man-made earth satellite.(Xinhua/Li Jian)

    News of his death hit newspaper headlines and long occupied highlights on websites over the weekend.

    The Beijing News Sunday published an editorial and urged people to learn from his devotion to science and aspiration for truth.

    Online news reports on his death were followed by thousands of messages from netizens.

    "Qian has made great contributions to China, and he should be long remembered by all Chinese people," said a netizen named as "Li Yaoming".

    "Qian has been working hard throughout his life. While mourning his leaving, our young generation should speed up efforts and make our own contributions to the country," said another netizen named as "1931".

    In Shanghai Jiao Tong University, where Qian studied from 1929 to 1934, more than 2,000 students held a memorial service on the campus Saturday night to pay respect to their alumnus.

    The university published a message of condolence on its website to Qian's family and relatives Saturday, expressing grief and consolation on behalf of all students and teachers of the University.

    The university's publishing house was working to compile and publish a picture album of Qian and a collection of his writings based on more than 800 pages of documents retrieved from the U.S. National Archives.

    Qian, seen by many Chinese as one of the country's greatest scientists and a patriot, studied in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States in 1935 and later in the California Institute of Technology. He came back to China in 1955.

   

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