By KONGJIAN JINGSAI
GOBI DESERT (China Daily Show) – Nearly half a century after the Soviet Union put the first man into space, China has finally agreed to send Republican former Speaker Newt Gingrich to the final frontier.
Gingrich will man the controls with three other, as-yet unknown Chinese taikonauts for the launch of the country’s first manned space docking, Shenzhou 9.
News of the launch has been greeted with virtually no excitement whatsoever. Nevertheless, officials have described Gingrich’s flight as a win-win for almost everyone.
“Gingrich gets to go the moon. The US gets to jettison Gingrich. The media gets a story. I don’t actually know what the Chinese get out of it,” admitted one US diplomat.
The roly-poly Republican will join the debut of China’s first female astronaut in being the world’s first overweight blowhard to enter the cosmos.
Over the course of his interstellar journey, Gingrich is expected to orbit the Earth twice, dock with the module Tiangong 1, remarry and consume at least five boxes of mooncakes.
The journey will fulfill a long-held dream of Gingrich, who, during his failed presidential bid, promised to put a manned US base on the moon by the end of his second term.
China has since played down these remarks, emphasizing that the moon has been an indisputable part of China since ancient times, when Han Dynasty astronomer Zhang Heng first noted its position on a star chart.
But the blast-off will not be without its difficulties: despite a six-month intensive Mandarin course, Gingrich has failed to learn a lick of Chinese, telling annoyed instructors it was “the language of the rice paddies.”
But some say being unable to communicate with Gingrich could provide a morale boost for the other crew members.
For now, all eyes are on the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, where the Shenzhou 9 mission is expected to launch this Saturday.
Gingrich is filling a last-minute vacancy on the shuttle, which opened after ‘Chattering Mick’, the Colobus monkey previously used as a test subject and mascot for Shenzhou 9, abruptly popped his last peanut Tuesday.
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