【Profile】 Bao Shuo: The First Post-90s Female Chief Dispatcher in Beijing for “Tianwen-1”

“Attention, this is Beijing. According to the flight control schedule, the Tianwen-1 Mars Rover will be launched in Beijing time…”. As the Chief Dispatcher in Beijing for “Tianwen-1”, Bao Shuo, the 2014 undergraduate alumni, is giving the instructions. In 2020, the launch of Tianwen-1 could be regarded as the beginning of planetary exploration in China, which contributes to the orbiting, landing and exploring of the Mars. This mode is the creation in the world and is also the first real deep space exploration in China.

As the only link between the space and ground in our country, Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC) is the center of command and control, analysis and calculation, flight control, data processing and information exchange for manned space and deep space exploration. All data will be gathered here, all instructions will be sent out from here, and emergency decision-making will be finally made here. Bao has become the first female Chief Dispatcher of the center in 40 years with her outstanding scientific research strength and quick response ability.

Dual “Beijing Chief Dispatcher”

Before “Tianwen-1”, Bao Shuo once in charge of the Chang’e-4 mission scheduling. As one of the central dispatchers, Bao, who was born in 1992, sits on the dispatchers’ desk and commands all sides. It seems that her job could bring her a good reputation, but she does not think so.

She then explained: “a dispatcher is actually like the ‘housekeeper’ of a mission. In the preparation stage, we need to contact dozens of units, formulate various work plans, and organize all units to carry out scheme design, software research and development, hardware integration, post training, joint commissioning and joint test, etc..” The post of “a dispatcher” should handle various information and should take great responsibility, who should not only be familiar with various procedures and systems, technical schemes and emergency plans, mastery with the processes and responsibilities of each post and system, but also have the ability to flexibly deal with emergencies.

One of the characteristics of Mars exploration is that there are many key controls, such as deep-space maneuvering and near-fire capture, which require a high demand for time specifically. Her flight control team has broken through a series of key technologies, can accurately know the location of “Tianwen-1”, and keep in touch with it through the measurement and control station; at the same time, they have also given a name for each command action, so as to accurately give commands to “Tianwen-1”.

Another major feature of Mars exploration is its long distance. In the past, the longest distance of lunar exploration was about 380,000 km, while the maximum distance of Mars exploration was about 400 million km. It will take about 44 minutes to send a command to “Tianwen-1”. Most of the time, it is difficult to judge the current state of “Tianwen-1” in real time. For this reason, she and her team members, on the basis of fully considering the influence of light travel time, effectively separated the command and status, ensuring the accuracy of judgment.

Superwoman with high-performance CPU processor

“As soon as she enters the flight control hall, she seems to have changed into an iron man. She can not drink, eat or rest for a long time”, which is the unanimous evaluation of Bao Shuo’s colleagues. In order to maintain physical fitness, she once insisted on getting up at 5 a.m. and taking a morning running. She is usually on duty 24 hours a day during the execution of the mission, so she changed to use other time to keep on exercising.

During the execution of the “Chang’e-5” mission, as the lunar surface work had to be completed within the scheduled 48 hours, in order to be able to stick to it, Bao secretly made preparations a month before the mission. She deliberately reduced her sleep time, sleeping only 3 hours a day, and controlled to sleep once every two days two weeks before the task. She admits that in the first few days, she felt so sleepy, but then gradually got used to it. “I hope that I can keep my thinking clear even with less sleep. Besides, I should complete the lunar surface work within the scheduled 48 hours”.

“This is Beijing”, which is a great recognition but also a heavy responsibility. As a dispatcher, she should collect various information, judge the order of priority, and conduct efficient processing like the high-performance CPU. “Many times, facing the simultaneous ringing of telephone and dispatching, it is particularly important to grasp the whole process and the ability of emergency response”. Bao Shuo considers that to dispatch is not only to give commands, but also to have deep understanding and to accurate grasp of the task.

From a glorious BITer to a space contributor

In 2010, Bao Shuo was admitted to BIT with excellent results and became an undergraduate majoring in Information Countermeasure Technology. During her four years of study and life in school, she worked hard and made clear the research direction she was interested in very early. “What impressed me most was the classes of Academician Wang Yue. In the classroom, the old gentleman’s profound and humorous teaching has given me a deeper understanding of professional knowledge and research fields. At the same time, his patriotism and ambition to serve the country have also deeply influenced me and guided me to make unremitting efforts for the research direction I love”. From a student of BIT to a frontline space contributor who takes on a heavy responsibility, Bao Shuo, under the influence of the spirit of BIT, keeps learning and exploring step by step.

“We should spare no efforts to realize our dreams in our lives. What is luck is that we have goals to be achieved”. Although, Bao gave up her reunion with her families over the spring festival of 2021, she also felt happy because of the company with “Tianwen-1”.

Exploring the vast universe, developing the space industry and building a powerful space country are our unremitting pursuit of space dream. In the field of aerospace, there are many BIT alumni who are as committed as Bao Shuo. They are lighting up the aerospace industry of the motherland with their raging youth. Sincerely wish every BITer a bright future in the vast space.