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Shooting stars

Updated: 2022-04-06 08:45 ( China Daily )
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A full moon rises over the launch tower of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province during last year's Mid-Autumn Festival. [Photo by XIE JIXIAO/FOR CHINA DAILY]

After that initial success, the group decided to regularly record China's rocket launches together.

The team films both the transfer and launch of a rocket and the core members arrive at least a week in advance to develop a specific production plan. Different filming locations and viewpoints have to be agreed upon, cameras adjusted, discussions held and basic training and procedures about how to shoot the launch have to be undertaken and confirmed.

Over 200 photographers, aged between 18 and 25, have participated in the program. Last year, the team produced 10 short videos from six launches.

"Our videos are diverse and appealing. We also use memes that youngsters are familiar with, so that our work spreads quickly online," Xie says.

A passionate community

As well as the stunning background scenery of coconut trees and the ocean, they also capture the power and grandeur of ignition, when flame and smoke and noise fill the air, as if some ancient mythical beast has awakened. This is when audience reaction is at its most telling. He recalls one moment when a 6-year-old girl, sitting wide-eyed, and in obvious awe, on the shoulders of her father, as the afterburn from liftoff was reflected briefly on the national flag in her hand.

Xie says the team's launch livestreams attract about 600,000 views each time they're posted. It's a good vehicle for the popularization of aerospace sciences, because of the popularity of watching livestreams among younger Chinese.

"I'm glad that I've turned my hobby into a career with my friends," Xie says.

"We're like a young social community with common interests in aerospace and photography. These photographers can also spark their interest in the field among their friends."

All of the participants pay their own transportation and accommodation costs, but all other expenses are shared.

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