A station which is responsible for measuring the results of missile launching tests stands in the remote Gobi Dessert in Northwest China's Gansu Province. Photo: VCG
In the remote and arid Gobi Desert in Northwest China's Gansu Province, three soldiers and a dog guard a data collection station, which is responsible for measuring the results of missile launching tests.
Jing Wenxing, one of the soldiers, said that their equipment tracks various missiles in the Gobi Desert.
His team is responsible for sending jamming signals to test the missiles.
"No missile can be deployed in a battlefield if it fails to pass our tests," Jing said, with a pride on his face.
But as keepers and users of the missile testing equipment, Jing and his two comrades have lots of challenges to deal with.
Aside from daily checks of the equipment and patrolling around the station, they have to face sandstorms.
And every time after a sandstorm stops, they need to clean the equipment.
Sudden rainstorms in the summer are also a big threat to the equipment installed underground.
Three soldiers give a salute when standing in front of the station. The dog which keeps them company lies down beside them on July 28. Photo: VCG
The soldiers need to check the equipment from time to time and promptly dry it out if needed.
The measuring station is like a tiny dot in the vast desert and these soldiers live a simple life, far away from their loved ones.
The People's Liberation Army soldiers stationed here have to use a generator for electricity.
If the machine fails, they cannot use their phones or cook meals.
Sometimes, they need to climb to the rooftop to catch a signal for their phones.
One soldier, who had been stationed here for many years, held his phone on the roof in the wind and heard the first cry of his newborn son.
Fang Lei is the father of two. Having video telephone calls with them has become the happiest time for him.
A soldier tests the equipment for tracking missiles. Photo: VCG
Xi Qiang is also a father, but he can only talk to his wife and see the face of his sleeping child, because his work finishes late into the night.
These soldiers usually talk about life in the Gobi Desert with their family members - the blue sky, the delicious food, the loyal dog.
But they rarely mention the missiles that fly across the sky over their heads.
The three soldiers enjoy their dinner. Photo: VCG
One day, when Xi was cooking dinner, the sound of a huge explosion shook the windows of the station.
It was a stray missile.
Soldiers have become familiar with this situation, since the station is near the ballistic trajectory of the missiles, and some missiles may go off course and explode near the station.
A soldier reads a message from his family on the roof with a smile. Photo: VCG
"Some people may dance on the edge of a knife, and we live in a life right under the missiles," the soldiers said, noting that they feel very proud when seeing a missile leave a perfect trail in the sky.
"The station is small, but our goal is not; we have less people, but more dreams," a banner hanging outside the station reads.
Soldiers play basketball. Photo: VCG