China’s First Aerospace Day
Posted on 5/17/2016
On April 24, 2016—less than six months after the People’s Bank of China’s release of the 100-Yuan Aerospace Commemorative note—China held its first Aerospace Day to honor the development of the Chinese space program.
Furnished by the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology as well as the National Defense Science and Industry Bureau, Aerospace Day and its celebrations in Beijing consisted of speeches from three generations of Chinese scientists, announcements of plans for future space exploration, and university demonstrations and exhibits. Aerospace Day is China’s newest national holiday and will continue yearly on April 24.
In tandem with the new holiday, the face of one of China’s most recent notes, the Aerospace Commemorative, bears the hallmarks of China’s accomplishments in space exploration. Dong Fang Hong I, China’s first satellite (the fifth independently-launched satellite after Russia, the United States, France, and Japan) is showcased as a green hologram at the left, and as the watermark. China successfully launched Dong Fang Hong I on April 24, 1970—and 46 years later used the date to mark Aerospace Day. At 173 kilograms, the satellite weighed more than the other four countries’ initial satellites combined.
The note’s centerpiece is Shenzhou 9, a three-person shuttle launched in 2012, which is docking with China’s first space laboratory, called Tiangong-1. Among the crew was the first Chinese woman in space, Liu Yang, in addition to Liu Wang and Jing Haipeng. The artwork showing the docking maneuver captures the preciseness required for such a crucial event, and on top of the swirling designs even manages to express the meticulously slow environment the Chinese astronauts (or taikonauts) had to maintain to achieve success.
The note’s reverse renders scientific progression in quite a literal fashion: onward and upward. Cresting the biplane flown by California’s—and the American West Coast’s—first aviator, Chinese national Fung Joe Guey, are a jumbo jet and a concept for China’s first permanent space station planned for launch sometime early next decade, Tiangong-3. All vignettes ascend toward the Chang’e-1, a lunar-orbiting satellite launched in 2007 that aided in rendering the most detailed, high-resolution map of the moon’s surface at the time. Chang’e-1 is also found at the right on the note’s face.
This design echoes Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Aerospace Day encouragements to “keep innovating to make a greater contribution to the country’s overall growth and all mankind.” In support of this goal, Aerospace Day included a slate of scientific exhibitions showcasing rockets and unmanned aerial vehicles to the public to spur general interest in flight and space exploration—especially among young people. The inspired, industrious take on aerospace science on China’s newest commemorative note is almost certainly another step toward this objective.
China has huge ambitions for space exploration planned for the coming decade, including a Mars rover mission and a probe landing on the moon’s far side—a region never before explored directly from the moon’s surface. The completion of a spherical telescope in the Guizhou Province will take place later this year, and with an expected aperture of 500 meters, will be the largest in the world.
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