The manned space program was listed as a national scientific plan in 1992. It was later named project 921, and consists of 7 parts. The space system is one of these parts. Now let's take a look at the development of the spaceship.
Nov. 20, 1999 - Shenzhou I
Shenzhou I was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in 1999. It was China's first test spaceship. After completing a 12 hour flight and carrying out all the planned scientific experiment, the spaceship landed successfully in central Inner Mongolia.
By Shenzhou I, China realized the spaceship reentry to the earth.
Jan. 10, 2001 - Shenzhou II
2 years later, China launched Shenzhou II, which was the country's first unmanned spacecraft. Technically, it was almost the same as a manned spacecraft. It returned to earth 7 days later. Experiments were carried out under minor gravity. Equipment functioned well and much scientific data was gathered.
Mar. 25, 2002 - Shenzhou III
In 2002, Shenzhou III was launched. Its design was the same as a manned spaceship.
The craft travelled in space for 7 days. Many experiments were carried out on board. And during this flight, an emergency escape system was tested, with satisfactory results. This laid a strong foundation for the later development of a manned space mission.
Dec. 30, 2002 - Shenzhou IV
Later in the 2002, China launched the Shenzhou IV spaceship. The craft was launched at a temperature of minus 28 degree Celsius, which set a new record.
During its 7 days in space, the spacecraft opened solar panels, adjusted its positions and realized orbital changes. After finishing all planned experiments, the spacecraft safely returned to Earth.
Oct. 15, 2003 - Shenzhou V (First manned space mission)
The first manned spacecraft was launched in 2003, with China's first astronaut, Yang Liwei, on board. The craft traveled in space for 21 hours and orbited the Earth for 14 times. It landed successfully in Inner Mongolia the next day. China became the world's third country to carry out an independent manned space mission.
Oct. 12, 2005 - Shenzhou VI
In 2005, Shenzhou VI was launched with two astronauts on board, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng. During the flight, Chinese astronauts took off their suits for the first time and conducted activities and experiments on board. It was also the first time that people participated in space experiments.
5 days later, the space craft returned to Earth. Its mission meant that the dream of a manned space mission had become reality for China -- for a second time.
Shenzhou VII is scheduled to be launched in the next few days. Three astronauts will be on board.