A native of Kunshan City, Jiangsu Province, Fei Junlong, 40, did not expect to become an astronaut when he dreamt about being a professional painter in his childhood.
In 1982, Fei enrolled as a trainee in the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force while in high school. Two years later, he graduated from the flight training school with excellent marks. He served as flight trainer and was appraised as outstanding. Later, he became a flight technology inspector and compiled an investigative report on flight accidents titled "Warning Signal Tolling." In July 1992, when on a trial flight, the aircraft being tested ran short of fuel. Using his outstanding flight skills, he managed to pilot the plane back to the airport and landed the craft just as the fuel tank ran dry. His courage, skill and cool and calm manner earned him a special pilot grade at the age of 32.
In January 1998, he was selected out of more than 1,500 elite pilots as a member of the astronaut brigade of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, together with Yang Liwei, China's first man in space, and Nie Haisheng, his colleague in the Shenzhou 6 mission.
As a boy, Nie Haisheng dreamt of flying on the back of a cow after sprouting two big wings. That dream came true on October 12, 2005, just one day before his 41st birthday, albeit in the module of the hi-tech spacecraft Shenzhou 6.
Nie was born into a poor family in Zaoyang City, Hubei Province. As the sixth child of a family of eight children, he cultivated the sort of patience and diligence that were seldom seen in many people.
In 1984, Nie entered the Flight Training School of the Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force.
On June 12, 1989, he was in an independent flight for the first time and the only engine of the plane came to a sudden halt more than 4,000 meters above the ground. The plane dove and ground control ordered Nie to abandon the vehicle and escape by parachute. But Nie risked his life trying to bring the plane back safely until it dropped to a height of 400-500 meters from the ground. Upon his narrow escape, Nie was awarded a third-class merit citation for his extraordinary courage.
He was also among the final candidates for the Shenzhou 5 mission two years ago.