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Cui Yun: master of general assembly behind Long March 5 rocket

Cui Yun, a master of skills in the general assembly and the testing of carrier rockets, is known as “the first person in the final assembly of China’s new generation of carrier rockets,” taking building the world’s top rockets as a lifelong career.

Cui Yun at work. (Photo/Youth.cn)

Cui has grown from an ordinary rocket assembler to a national master of skills at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, forging an excellent team to help the development of China’s aerospace industry.

In 2013, Cui served as deputy director of the final assembly and test workshop of Tianjin Aerospace Long March Rocket Manufacturing Co., Ltd., in charge of the new generation carrier rocket final assembly.

“We space rocket assemblers have jargon that others do not know, ‘the back wall does not fall down,’ what is the ‘back wall,’ that is, the time when the rocket leaves the factory must be guaranteed,” he said.

As the only super-skilled person in China who has participated in the whole process of the development of all active strap-on carrier rockets, Cui has participated in the assembly of more than 70 rockets.

However, in the face of the Long March 5, whose diameter is nearly twice as large as the previous ones and 95 percent of which uses new technologies, the tools and assembly methods adopted in traditional rockets in the past can no longer meet the needs of final assembly.

With regard to the final assembly of large-diameter rockets, there is no domestic experience to learn from. At a time when everyone was at a loss, Cui, relying on decades of understanding of the performance of various rocket systems and the accumulation of knowledge, put forth his experience in an unexpected way via reverse thinking: “only rotation can solve this problem.” Though, it’s a rather challenging task to get a 20-ton behemoth rolling.

Over the course of two months, after hundreds of experiments and countless revisions of drawings and plans, Cui led the team to overcome the key difficulty in assembling the large-diameter rocket of Long March 5, with personnel having the ability to carry out various assembly processes on the ground, realizing multi-person and multi-point operations at the same time.

In the end, the work efficiency of the final assembly increased by two to three times.

Through bold innovation in technology and management, Cui led the team to effectively ensure that the time node of the rocket leaving the factory and “the back wall does not fall down.”

Today, Cui and his team have successfully completed the first flight of Long March 7 and Long March 5 carrier rockets, making outstanding contributions to China’s aerospace sector. On May 1, 2019, he was awarded the “May 1st Labor Medal.”

“I really like the final assembly and test work of rockets,” Cui said, adding that “I can’t put this obsession into words. I really like it.” 

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