ĦĦĦĦBEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- China's unmanned
spaceship "Shenzhou IV" returned to earth on schedule Sunday evening from its
ĦĦĦĦThe spaceship touched down at 7:16 p.m. in the designated area in the
middle of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in north China, according to
officials in charge of the space program.
ĦĦĦĦExperts said the return of the spaceship represents a complete success of
the fourth test flight of the program, which began in 1992.
ĦĦĦĦChinese President Jiang Zemin, who is also chairman of the Central Military
Commission, offered his congratulations Sunday on the successful return of the
spaceship, after being briefed on the ongoing manned space program by leading
officials in charge of theprogram.
ĦĦĦĦA senior official said in an interviews with Xinhua that the successful
launch and return of "Shenzhou IV" shows China' s technology for manned flights
is becoming increasingly mature, which lays a solid foundation for eventually
sending up manned flights.
ĦĦĦĦEarlier Sunday, China's ocean-based aerospace control ship "Yuanwang III"
ordered the re-entry module's return while "ShenzhouIV" was orbiting Earth for
the 107th time over the south Atlantic.
ĦĦĦĦAnother module remained aloft and will continue to orbit the planet for an
unspecified period for space science and applicationexperiments.
ĦĦĦĦUpon receiving the order, the capsule's re-entry vehicle
disengaged from its orbiter, and its retropack started, generatingpower for the
spaceship to return to Earth from outer space.
ĦĦĦĦThe spaceship was first spotted flying toward Earth by the Xi'an Satellite
Monitoring Center, which was in charge of the re-entry module's recovery.
ĦĦĦĦThe spaceship was later locked by radar by another survey station when it
was about 30 kilometeres from the landing site in Inner Mongolia, where
temperatures reached minus 30 degrees centigrade.
ĦĦĦĦLike previous "Shenzhou" capsules, the spaceship parachuted down to the icy
cold vast plain, with its parachute covering 1,200square meters.
ĦĦĦĦThe spaceship was quickly located by airborne and ground recovery teams in
the snow-covered landing site. Helicopters hovered as recovery technicians drove
toward the re-entry module.
ĦĦĦĦDuring its space mission that lasted six days and 18 hours, "Shenzhou IV"
circled the earth 108 times.
ĦĦĦĦIt was launched from the Jiuquan Manned Space Launch Site in northwest
China's Gansu province at 0:40 a.m. on Dec. 30 atop a Long March II F rocket.
ĦĦĦĦDuring the flight, the spaceship was tracked and controlled by the Beijing
Aerospace Command and Control Center through its four "Yuanwang" aerospace
survey ships stationed in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans and its ground
control stations, according to the experts.
ĦĦĦĦThe spacecraft successfully performed several hundred moves in space,
including unfolding its solar panels.
ĦĦĦĦExperts said "Shenzhou IV", the fourth unmanned capsule of China's ongoing
manned space program, is identical to manned spaceships.
ĦĦĦĦAll the systems for manned space flight, including an astronautsystem and
life-support sub-system have been fitted on the spaceship and tested, said the
ĦĦĦĦChinese would-be astronauts entered the spaceship prior to the launch to
ĦĦĦĦA number of research projects were conducted in the spaceship during the
flight, involving earth observation, material science and space astronomy.
ĦĦĦĦAll the instruments abroad functioned normally, and collected agreat deal
of test data and scientific material while the spacecraft was orbiting, said the
ĦĦĦĦChinese scientists will analyze and study instruments and experimental
samples aboard the module, which will soon be transported to Beijing.
ĦĦĦĦLi Changchun, member of the Standing Committee of the PoliticalBureau of
the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee, and a number of other
high-ranking officials watched live the return of the spacecraft at the Beijing
Aerospace Command and Control Center.
ĦĦĦĦChina launched its unmanned "Shenzhou I", "Shenzhou II" and "Shenzhou III"
spacecraft in November 1999, January 2001 and March 2002, respectively.