Craftsman of the Nation: Xu Liping risks life to build rockets

World Today

To power a rocket involves a craft called powder-shaping. The meticulous work consists of fitting the accurate amount of powder into the rocket’s engine. This is both a delicate art as well as a dangerous one. One tiny error could be fatal. A master of the art sits with CCTV News to discuss how national pride propels him to undertake the dangerous task.

Craftsman of the Nation is a series by CCTV News about the people behind China’s major technology and military sectors.

Xu Liping of China Aerospace Science & Technology Corp has been in the powder-shaping trade for more than two decades. His works range from rocket motors as used in China’s major military parade in September, to the country’s Shenzhou satellite navigation system.

If the powder’s surface precision is damaged, by an overcut or a mark accidentally left over, the delicate engine could be at risk of exploding. Precision is mandatory because 0.5 mm is the maximum error limit allowed for rocket motors.

Xu has always left his margin of error within 0.007 inch (0.2 mm).

“If you hit the metal shell and strike sparks, it will certainly cause an explosion – too fast for you to respond, no chance to run at all”, Xu said.

His wife, Li Yuanzhen, is also very aware of the risks involved.

“I told him he worked too hard, and that he should change to something safer, for me, and for our son,” Li told CCTV, “but he wasn’t willing to give it up.”

Xu told CCTV that the moment he saw Shenzhou spacecraft being sent into space with astronauts and when Chang’e lunar probe voyaged to the moon, he felt “full of pride”.

“The country comes first, and then there is home”, Xu said.

Story by CCTV News.