Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Thursday, October 16, 2003

China successfully launches its first manned spacecraft

China's first manned spacecraft, the Shenzhou-5, blasted off from the Jiuquan SatelliteLaunch Center in the northwestern province of Gansu at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The spacecraft, atop a Long March II F rocket, was piloted by Yang Liwei, 38, a lieutenant colonel of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).


China's first spaceman Yang Liwei(2)
Amidst deafening roars, China launched its first manned spacecraft "Shenzhou V" from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center and sent its first astronaut to the space with "Long March CZ-2 F" carrier rocket at 9:00 am Beijing Time October 15, and later the spacecraft entered its orbit. This is China's first manned spaceflight, which marked the breakthrough of China's manned space project. China has become the third country in the world, which can independently carry out the manned space activities.

At 9:10 am, Shenzhou V entered precisely into its pre-set orbit. State leaders Hu Jintao, Huang Ju, Wu Guanzheng, Cao Gangchuan and Wang Gang watched the launch at the launching site.

Li Jinai, director-general of China's manned space program, announced success of the launch about ten minutes after the blast-off, when the spacecraft entered its preset orbit with precision.

The astronaut Yang Liwei, from Liaoning Province and aged 38, is a member of the Astronaut Team of PLA. As a Chinese astronaut of the first generation, he was an excellent fighter pilot of PLA air force with the flight experience of 1350 hours. In 1998, he was selected as an astronaut. After five years' hard training and study, he stood out excellent in all of his studies. Before the launch, the command center of the manned space flight made the decision that Yang was to carry out the first manned flight. According to the plan, Yang would take the spacecraft to fly around the earth for 14 times and then to land in the middle of the Inner Mongolia.

China launches its first manned spacecraft
At about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, the first earth-to-space dialogue was conducted between doctor Li Yongzhi on the ground and astronaut Yang Liwei on board Shenzhou-5, according to the command and control center in Beijing.

"I feel good and my conditions are normal". Yang told the doctor about his body temperature and blood pressure.

According to plan, there will be several earth-to-space dialogues during the space flight. And medical workers on the ground will be able to acquire real-time information about conditions of the astronaut traveling in the space at the moment.

At present, China has 14 astronauts, who are selected from among 1,500 pilots in active service of the Chinese air force. As China's first group of astronauts, they are all qualified with every quality and comprehensive abilities for space flight after receiving tough training in basic theories, stamina, psychological quality and specialized technology. China has built up the center for the selection and training of astronauts, developed a series of products and facilities, such as the centrifuge, the analogue training machine and spacesuits. Beijing Research Institute of Space Medical Science has taking up the task for building up a series of astronauts.

China launches its first manned spacecraft
Shenzhou V, the manned spacecraft, is mainly developed by Chinese Academy of Space Technology (CAST) and Shanghai Academy of Space Navigation, which are subordinated to China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation (CASC). The spacecraft consists of several such modules as propelling, returning and orbit and an attachment module as well. The spacecraft can carry three astronauts and possesses the functions of the emergency return from the orbit or controlled by hand.

The "Long March CZ-2 F" carrier rocket, which carried "Shenzhou V" into the orbit, is developed mainly by China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) which is a subsidiary to CASC. This rocket is a kind of clustered carrier with enormous propelling power developed for the project of China's manned spacecraft, which has succeeded in five launches in succession since Shenzhou I was sent into the space.

The launching pad for manned spacecraft is the new type of installment for the launch of spacecraft developed in China's "Ninth Five Year Plan" period, which is equipped with vertical assembling, vertical testing, vertical operation mode, long distance testing and launching control.

The application system for manned spaceflight will carry out scientific and technological experiments in the manned spacecraft

Department under Chinese Academy of Science and Ministry of Information Industry have developed the apparatuses to be carried in the spacecraft for scientific experiments and application in the space and the cybernetic facilities on the ground.

Several emergency life-saving spots on land and on the sea have been set up for the manned spaceflight this time.

During the period when the spacecraft was flying in the orbit, the monitor and commanding centers under Xi'an Satellite Monitor & Control Center and "Yuanwang" vessel for space surveying will keep on monitoring, surveying and controlling the spacecraft under the united management and directions from Beijing Space Direction & Control Center. The health, living and working conditions of the astronaut can be known by way of the physiological parameters and the images and voices remote-senses and transmitted back to the earth.

It was the 71st flight of "Long March" series rockets, and also the 29th successful launch in succession for spaceflight in China since October 1996.

The Chinese people's space dream could be traced to a fairy tale that has been told since ancient time, about a woman of surpassing beauty flying to the moon after taking some magic medicine, where she stays as the Moon Goddess.

Back in the 14th century, a Chinese named Wan Hu attempted to send himself into sky by lighting 47 gunpowder-packed bamboo tubes tied to his chair. Although he got killed in this bold attempt, Wan has since been widely regarded as the world's first person using rockets as a flight vehicle.

Thirty-three years ago, Hu Shixiang pressed the rocket blast-off button to send China's first man-made satellite into space. China's space exploration activities had since started.

Five years later, with the successful landing of the country's first recoverable satellite, China turned out to be the third nation in the world having acquired the space vehicle recovery technology. "This laid a solid foundation for China's manned spaceflight program", said Wang Yongzhi, chief designer of China's manned space program.

"The successful launch of Shenzhou-5 proves that China's space technology has advanced from the research phase into the application phase," said Gu Yidong, director-general and chief designer of the space application system under China's manned space program.

Since China officially launched its manned space program in 1992, its experts have resolved a range of technical problems withthe astronaut system, space application system, spacecraft system, rocket system and launch pad system.

Between 1999 and 2002, China successfully launched four experimental and unmanned spacecraft, paving the way for this manned flight. The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, located at the juncture area of the Badain Jardan Desert and the Gobi Desert in northwest China's Gansu Province, is the country's largest spaceport from which all the previous four spacecraft were launched.

Chronology of China's space program since the 1950s:
Oct. 8, 1956: China opens its first institute on missile and rocket research, the No. 5 Research Institute attached to the Ministry of National Defense, with Qian Xuesen, a Chinese scientist who returned from the United States, as the first director.

July 19, 1964: A biological rocket carrying albino rats is launched successfully from Guangde County in east China's Anhui Province, an important step forward in China's space exploration.

April 1, 1968: An institute for spaceflight-oriented medical engineering opens in Beijing, charged with conducting research into manned spaceflight.

April 24, 1970: China becomes the fifth country to send a satellite into orbit, as the DFH-1 scientific experimental satellite lifts off aboard a Long March rocket.

Nov. 26, 1975: China launches its first recoverable satellite, which returns to earth three days later, and becomes the third country able to operate recoverable satellites.

Sept. 7, 1988: China launches meteorological satellite FY-1A at Taiyuan launch base, north China's Shanxi Province.

April 7, 1990: A Long March CZ-3 sends AsiaSat-1 communication satellite into orbit, marking the start of China's commercial launch service.

July 16, 1990: China launches Long March CZ-2E, a cluster carrier rocket, laying a foundation for manned spacecraft launches.

1992: China lists manned spaceflight as one of its state projects, later named Shenzhou (Divine Vessel).

Nov. 20, 1999: China launches its Shenzhou experimental spacecraft for the first time and the re-entry module lands in central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region the next day.

Jan. 10, 2001: Shenzhou-2 experimental spacecraft launches successfully and the re-entry capsule returns to earth on Jan. 16 in central Inner Mongolia after carrying out scientific research projects.

March 25, 2002: China sends unmanned Shenzhou-3 into orbit and after circling the earth 108 times, the craft returns to earth, landing in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on April 1.

Dec. 30, 2002: Shenzhou-4, also an unmanned spacecraft, also launches successfully.

Oct. 15, 2003: Shenzhou-5 blasts off into space from Jiuquan launch center, and China sends its first astronaut into orbit.

China's "Long March" carrier rockets
With Shenzhou-5 spaceship blasted into space, China's "Long March" carrier rockets have created the 29th successful launch record in the history of China's space flight program since 1996.

Developed by China on its own, the "Long March" carrier rockets fall into four series with 12 models. They are China's major carrier rockets in its space flight program.

"Long March" carrier rockets have a payload capacity of 12 tons for the launch into the low earth orbit and 5.2 tons for the launch into the geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO).

"Long March" carrier rockets can launch satellites into any desired orbits, with the precision orbiting reaching advanced levels in the world.

Since the launch of China's first man-made satellite on April 24, 1970, the "Long March" carrier rockets have made 71 launches, sending 52 home-made satellites, 27 foreign satellites and five "Shenzhou" spaceships into space.

Only six of the 71 launches failed. The success rate has reached the same level as in developed countries.

"Long March" carrier rockets started to offer commercial launches on April 7, 1990 when "Long March" CZ-3 successfully senta communications satellite into space for the US Hughes company.

"Long March" carrier rockets have so far made 27 commercial launches, occupying five percent of the international satellite launch service market.

By People's Daily Online

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