Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, April 02, 2002
'Shenzhou III' Unmanned Spacecraft Returns
Shenzhou-III, China's third unmanned space shuttle launched on March 25 touched down smoothly in the central part of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in north China Monday (April 1st)at 16:51 (Beijing Time), after flying 108 circles around the earth in nearly one week. Chinese President Jiang Zenmin congratulated the return of the unmanned spacecraft soon after learning the news.
Shenzhou-III, China's third unmanned space shuttle launched on March 25 touched down smoothly in the central part of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in north China Monday (April 1st)at 16:51 (Beijing Time), after flying 108 circles around the earth in nearly one week.
Previous Two Unmanned Spaceships
On January 10, 2001, China launched the second unmanned spaceship "Shenzhou II" which was basically identical to a manned craft.
Scientists designed space life sciences, space materials, space astronomy and space physics experiments under conditions of microgravity in outer space. In Detail
The first experimental spacecraft "Shenzhou" was launched by "Long March" carrier rocket at 6:30 a.m. on November 20, 1999 and touched down in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 3:41 a.m. the next day.
Chinese technologists for the first time assembled and tested the rocket and spaceship in a vertical way. In Detail
In November, 1999, Chinese President Jiang Zemin wrote the inscription "Shenzhou" for the country's first test spacecraft which successfully completed its flight.
When the spaceship orbited its 108th pass around the earth, thesurveying vessel, "Yuanwang III" which was anchoring in the Atlantic Ocean in the South Hemisphere, ordered the spaceship's returning module to come back.
After separation from the orbital module, which would still runaround the earth in the coming months, the returning module flew to the preset area.
Chinese space scientists will analyze and study scientific instruments and experimental samples aboard on the returning module, which is scheduled to be transported to Beijing in a couple of days.
Leading officers with the China Manned Space Program which includes a series of test flights expected to lead to a first manned space mission, said that "Shenzhou III" is "technically suitable for astronauts".
A set of metabolic simulation apparatus, human physical monitoring sensors and dummy astronauts have been installed aboardthe spaceship, they said.
They also said that the successful launch and return of "Shenzhou III" have laid a solid basis for the country's future endeavor to send man to outer space.
Shenzhou's flight was being tracked and controlled from the Beijing Aerospace Direction and Control Center, Xi'an Satellite Monitoring Center and a fleet of four monitoring vessels, which have been deployed in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans.
China conducted its first test flight of "Shenzhou" in 1999 at the Jiuquan launch site. And according to a plan, it will launch more unmanned spacecraft until a manned spaceship takes shape.
"Shenzhou III" is composed of an orbital module, returning module, booster rockets and access section. Compared with its predecessor, the new spacecraft has been improved in structure and technological qualities to ensure better security and reliability.
Space scientists say the Shenzhou III is " technically suitable for astronauts." Dummy astronauts simulating human physiology and human physical monitoring sensors have been installed aboard the spacecraft to help improve its life-support system.
Also for the first time, space scientists tested the escape system, which could save the lives of astronauts.
The "Long March II F" carrier rocket that carries the spacecraft was a new powerful product made in China especially for the manned space program. Its overall structure, power system, control system and remote monitoring system has been improved to ensure reliability, and new trouble-shooting system and life-saving system have been added for better safety of the spacemen.
The spacecraft was developed and manufactured mainly by the Chinese Research Institute of Space Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, and Shanghai Research Institute of Astronomical Technology. The carrier rocket was made by the China Research Institute of Carrier Rocket Technology under the Aerospace Corporation.
This was the 66th launch of the "Long March" carrier rocket series, and its 24rd successful launch in a row since October 1996.