China's 'live' coverage censored astronaut's bloody reentry

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:31 PM EST

China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei, was happy and smiling after having orbited Earth 14 times in the Shenzhou 5 back in 2003—at least that's how he was seen in the official picture above.

But it turns out that's not how Yang actually looked when he first emerged from his capsule. Xia Lin, a top official at Xinhua, the state news agency, revealed in a speech that the G-forces were so excessive during reentry that the astronaut's lip was split and his face drenched in blood, a far cry from the cheerful photo above.

"All of my organs seemed to break into pieces," the astronaut said of his experience during takeoff.

According to the New York Times, Xia stated that to make sure the moment would be one of unblemished triumph, workers mopped up the blood, strapped Yang back in his seat and closed him up with the capsule once more. Yang then exited a second time, giving the appearance that the landing had gone off without a hitch.

How is the Chinese government dealing with this disclosure? All postings about Lin's lecture, titled "Understanding Journalistic Protocols for Covering Breaking News," were deleted, as you can see here, and officials at Xinhua and Tianjin Foreign Studies University did not return calls seeking comment.