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Meet 1st female chief dispatcher of Beijing Aerospace Control Center


Bao Shuo, a dispatcher of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center. /CMG
Bao Shuo, a dispatcher of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center. /CMG

Bao Shuo, a dispatcher of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center. /CMG

Bao Shuo, born in the 1990s, is the first female chief dispatcher of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) since its establishment.

The BACC is the control center of China's manned spaceflight and deep space exploration missions. As a center for command and dispatch, analysis and calculation, flight control, data processing, and information exchange, it is considered the "only link between the space and the Earth."

Some people think being a dispatcher at the center is just reading commands from the screen. Bao said that the work is complicated because they have to handle a large amount of information from multiple sessions.

"Many voices may report to you at the same time," she said. "At this point you have to distinguish everyone's (message), the most urgent one and which one to deal with first."

"Sitting on the control desk feels scary all the time," said the young dispatcher.

Bao joined the BACC in 2017 after graduate school. At first, she was on the down-up control post, where her job was to give commands to the spacecraft. In March 2019, she was assigned to the dispatch position, responsible for task organization and command, plan formulation, coordination and management, etc.

The challenges of her job made her question both her professional abilities and personality.

"I have always been introverted and not good at communication," Bao said. However, as a dispatcher, she often needs to coordinate various positions. "For me, I was even afraid to make a phone call to others at the beginning."

Although under pressure, Bao has always stayed positive and proactive.

In 2020, she ushered in a "big test," being designated as the chief dispatcher of China's first Mars exploration mission, Tianwen-1.

To Bao, the biggest challenge of the mission is the transport delay between Mars and Earth. She explained that for lunar missions, the time delay is probably about seconds. However, as the Mars probe went farther, it gradually increased to a two-way delay of more than 40 minutes.

"We couldn't afford to make any mistake, so we made some fault predictions," she said.

Although Tianwen-1 was her first time as chief dispatcher, Bao successfully passed this "big test." During the process, she was able to make accurate judgments for all kinds of information, and respond timely and appropriately.

When asked how to communicate with colleagues at the end of the each dispatch, Bao said she would speak to all the dispatch groups: "Attention, this is Beijing, this control is over normally, all numbers can exit."

And that was the happiest and most relaxing moment for Bao.

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