Taking the High Ground

It was worth the wait. On Oct. 15, after decades of fitful starts and spectacular failures for China's space program, Lieut. Colonel Yang Liwei, a diminutive ex-fighter pilot, roared into the heavens to become China's first man in space. During his 21-hour journey in the heavens, the 38-year-old Yang maneuvered weightlessly in the tight compartment of the Shenzhou V capsule, taking photographs, naps, and at one point producing a tiny Chinese flag—an iconic image that would soon be broadcast to 1.3 billion fellow citizens back home. The mission-control room outside Beijing burst into cheers, already buoyed by a message from President...

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