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

China declares manned spaceflight successful

China announced the success of its first manned space flight and the safe return of astronaut Yang Liwei Thursday morning. Shenzhou V landed at the preset primary landing area in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 06:23 (Beijing time).


China's first astronaut returns safely
China's first astronaut Yang Liwei walked out of the re-entry capsule the Shenzhou 5 (Divine Vessel V) spaceship, smiling and waving to the recovery team Thursday morning in the grassland in Gobi Desert, Inner Mongolia.

The recovery personnel at the landing site said that conditions of the 38-year-old Yang were good after he spent 21 hours in space, orbiting the Earth 14 times.

Yang has travelled more than 600,000 kilometres in the earth's orbit before Shenzhou 5 brought him back at 6:07 am Thursday Beijing time. Yang said he feels excellent after the 21-hour journey, the first by a Chinese.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said in a congratulation message that China's first manned spaceflight has been a "complete success", which shall be written into the history of China's space program development.

Jiang Zemin, chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), has hailed success of China's first manned space flight as "one more proof to the will and capability of the Chinese people to surmount the peak of world science and technology."

In a telephone call to Li Jinai, chief commander of China's space program, Jiang said, "I am very happy and excited to hear that our country's first manned space flight has turned out to be a complete success."

This signals that China has become the world's third spacefaring country, following Russia and the United States.

At 05:35, Shenzhou-5 began its return, ordered by the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center.

At 05:36, the re-entry module separated from the orbital module.

At 05:38, the retros were ignited to slowdown the re-entry.

At 05:59, the re-entry module jettisoned the propulsion module.

At 06:00, the re-entry module entered the territorial space of China.

At 06:04, the module was in the "black-out" zone, when it entered the atmosphere.

Yang reported he was in good conditions several times during the re-entry, while Premier Wen Jiabao called him to wish him a safe return.

At 06:07, rescue helicopters received signals from the re-entrymodule to identify the landing point.

At 06:23, the re-entry module landed at the preset site.

At 06:28, a team of rescuers reported they found the re-entry module 7.5 kilometers away.

At 06:36, five rescue helicopters raced towards the capsule and found it. They said Yang felt good and the conditions with the capsule also seemed normal.

Premier Wen Jiabao talked with Yang, congratulating his safe return. Then the Beijing control center declared that China's first manned spaceflight succeeded.

At 6:51, Yang Liwei went out of the capsule on himself, waving to rescuers.

Li Jinai said that, the actual landing site is 4.8 kilometers from the designed site, but the conditions of the return capsule are good and Yang could walk out of the capsule on himself. All these marked the complete success of the manned flight.

The dream was to be realized centuries later in New China, a China recognized as one of the fastest growing economies in the world, as a country taking giant steps towards modernization under the reform-and-opening policy since the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In 1992, the country started a manned space flight program, in the wake of success in sending man-made earth satellites into space. Spacecraft of the Shenzhou series ventured, successfully, into the outer space four times from 1999 to 2002 under the program.

Yang's return to land from outer space signifies completion of the first step taken by China to implement its plans for space exploration. More steps are to follow -- attempts for space walk, rendezvous and docking of spaceships and setting up of a space lab.

Sometime from now, up in the space, high up over the Earth, there will be a space station which, like Shenzhen-5 that has just made history, will be designed, built and manned by the Chinese.

By People's Daily Online

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