By Guang Guo
BEIJING (China Daily Show) – Confusion has greeted an unexplained decision to suddenly cut live television coverage of a Chinese spacecraft’s re-entry to Earth.
The launch of Shenzhou-9, a manned orbiter carrying the country’s first female astronaut, Liu Yang, has received little global interest.
The exception is China’s state channel CCTV, which has broadcast constant, groundbreakingly enthusiastic and astronomically expensive coverage.
But the live televised feed, which had thus far maintained constant coverage of the mission, was suddenly pulled from all stations at approximately thirteen minutes into the re-entry and landing procedure.
The broadcast was then inexplicably replaced with a rolling series of L’Oreal commercials.
Viewers tuning in to watch the three weary Chinese astronauts emerge from a cramped capsule, bobbing in the Yellow Sea, were instead greeted with actress Gong Li, explaining the benefits of L’Oreal’s range of hair-care product.
In the final image broadcast of the feed, which had a mandated one-hour time delay, a puzzled Yang was seen tapping one of the spacecraft’s landing dials and cursing softly.
The show then cut to the CCTV studios in Beijing, where a surprised-looking anchor, James Chau, seemed momentarily lost for words.
“Well, best not to dwell too much on the glory of the motherland,” Chau then briskly announced. “We’ll be right back after these important messages.”
The remarks were then followed by eight hours of back-to-back L’Oreal commercials, all featuring actress Li.
24 hours after Shenzhou-9 was scheduled to be retrieved, an unnamed China Space Agency spokesman issued a terse statement.
“Everything had gone completely according to plan,” he read. “The brave astronauts are precisely where we intended them to be.
“We have contacted their families and told them exactly what their reaction is,” the spokesman added.
He then left the podium to be replaced by actress Gong Li, who began speaking on behalf of L’Oreal’s new Viscose-Bounce Tonique range of shampoos and conditioners.
This morning, Chinese Internet searches for the words ‘Shenzhou-9’ ‘capsule,’ ‘spacecraft disaster’ and ‘flaming ball of death and wreckage,’ returned no results.
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