Somebody over there in China goofed on this one, setting the background music of the video animation of the Launch to America the Beautiful.
The lift-off was flawless. The orbit immaculate. But while China‘s leaders were celebrating the triumphant launch of Tiangong-1 space lab on Thursday, viewers of state television footage were treated to a bizarre choice of soundtrack: America the Beautiful.
To mark the launch, the Chinese space agency and China Central Television (CCTV) released aproud animation, set to rousing orchestral strains, of the “Heavenly Palace” thrusting skyward, lofting above the Earth and docking with a Shenzou crew capsule.
The only problem being that the backing music in question is America the Beautiful – more or less an unofficial national anthem of the United States. The Guardian spotted the blunder after picking up the video from the Reuters news agency while covering the launch.
America the Beautiful, which was composed by a New York church organist in 1882, has long been a favourite of US patriots. It has been proposed as the national hymn and a replacement for The Star-Spangled Banner as anthem.
It could hardly be more different from the music associated with the launch of China’s first rocket in 1970. That satellite transmitted the Cultural Revolution anthem, The East is Red, extolling the virtues of the Communist party and Chairman Mao.
The choice of soundtrack for the Tiangong launch raised several questions. Is this the work of an idealist seeking to usher in a new era of transPacific cooperation, a nationalist who wants to colonise American culture as well as outer space, or simply a propaganda gaffe?