JIUQUAN, June 16 (Xinhua) -- Liu Wang, used to ride a rough bicycle to his village school, is to ride China's most sophisticated vehicle to a space journey.
Riding a bicycle was like flying for the rural boy, Liu recalled, saying he would pass by the 7-km dirt road near his home "in the blink of an eye."
The 43-year-old aviator now takes a real flight in the Shenzhou-9 space mission, which is conducted by three astronauts and features China's first attempt at a manual space docking procedure -- a task that has been placed on Liu's shoulders.
Liu was born in March 1969 in Pingyao, Shanxi Province. In 1988, upon his high school graduation, he was enrolled into an aviation school of the People's Liberation Army Air Force with outstanding academic scores.
As a senior colonel, the former pilot possesses a safe flight record of 1,000 hours. In 1998, he was selected to be trained as an astronaut.
"Liu is very smart, with a prominent academic record," said Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut who traveled space in 2003 on the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft.
Liu came up as one candidate in the selection of crew members for China's previous space missions.
Liu, however, did not give up. "I told myself, as long as I am not ordered to stop, I'll have a chance," Liu said.
Liu was enthusiastic about China's manned space program, rejoicing at each of the program's achievements, even when they were accomplished by others, Chen Shanguang, commander-in-chief of China's astronauts, said.
"He has never wavered in his faith in China's manned space missions. I have seen him devote himself to new rounds of training with a full spirit, despite failures in his previous attempts to join space missions," he said.
Liu was known for his persistence and hard work that made him finally a member of the Shenzhou-9 mission crew.
After being informed of his acceptance for the Shenzhou-9 mission, Liu said he was briefly overwhelmed by excitement, a feeling that was quickly replaced by a sharpened sense of responsibility.
"The upcoming mission means a lot for both the country's spaceflight program, as well as for me personally," he said.
Liu is the eldest son of a rural family. He is known for his reliability, diligence and devotion to his family.
Jing Haipeng, commanding officer of the Shenzhou-9 mission, said Liu never made errors in conducting 1,500 manual space docking tests before the mission.