Friday, 24 April 2020

the east is red one

On this day fifty years ago, carried aloft by a Changzheng (long march, CZ-1) rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre of Inner Mongolia, China became the world’s sixth space-faring nation (see previously, the UK launched Ariel 1 with American cooperation) with the Dongfanghong I (东方红一号, meaning the eponymous national anthem during the Cultural Revolution, 1966 - 1976) which the research vehicle broadcast continuously back to Earth (along with telemetry data) on an ultra-shortwave band during its planned twenty-day life span. Though the tune is used by broadcasters as an interval signal, like the pips, and remained popular with the public, it was dropped later in the decade with the ascension and reforms of Deng Xiaping in favour of the original “March of the Volunteers” for its associations with purges, imprisonment and factional strife. In May 2016, an updated version was circulating on the internet “The East is Red Again,” suggesting that Xi Jingping is the political heir of Mao Zedong, whom while the mentions of the songs went down a memory hole, Xi failed to refute the comparison.