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Home >> China
UPDATED: 21:18, October 12, 2005
China enters new era of space history
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China put two astronauts in present orbit Wednesday aboard its homemade spacecraft Shenzhou-6 on a multi-day mission, turning to a new chapter of the country's space history.

Compared with its predecessor Shenzhou-5, Shenzhou-6, however, is more sophisticated with about 100 novelties though they look very much the same.

Astronaut Yang Liwei orbited the Earth for 14 rounds on the country's first manned space, Shenzhou-5, journey that last only 21 hours two years ago, however, astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng are expected to stay in space for nearly one week and have much more works to do than Yang did.

On Shenzhou-5, Yang, fastened to his chair, sat in the same position for 21 hours during the mission to make sure that everything worked in space and on the ground.

But the astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-6 began to take off their heavy space suits, put on work clothes and enter the orbitual capsule from the return capsule to conduct space experiments and scientific research about nine hours after the blastoff, which marks a significant breakthrough in China's space technology.

Life in the two manned space missions is also much different. Yang had nothing more than specially-prepared moon-cake and cold water to eat and drink in China's first manned space mission, but Fei and Nie can enjoy hot meals in the second mission.

Wang Yongzhi, chief general designer of China's Manned Spaceflight Program, said the Shenzhou-5 mission represents a historic breakthrough for China's decade-old manned space program, as well as the successful completion of the first stage of the country's manned space program.

The ongoing mission is actually the real manned space one in its real sense, space experts said.

Wang said the launch of Shenzhou-6 marks the beginning of the second stage, during which China plans to make more breakthroughs in manned space missions, such as manned space flight carrying more than one person and lasting more than one day, space walking of astronauts, and docking between capsule and space module.

China plans to build a permanent space laboratory and a space engineering system at the third stage so that astronauts and scientists will travel between the earth and the space station for scientific experiments on larger scale in the coming two decades.

That will enable Chinese astronauts and scientists to conduct experiments in space regularly, laying a solid foundation for the peaceful utilization of space and exploitation of space resources

Meanwhile China's space officials assured the world China's manned space program is for peaceful use of space resources and China has a long way to go to catch up with the United States and Russia.

"China will never be a superpower, but as the world's biggest developing country with 1.3 billion people, it should have a place in aerospace development and make due contributions," Wang added.

Source: Xinhua

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