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China's unmanned spaceship lands

Xinhuanet 2003-01-05 20:18:27

ĦĦĦĦBEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhuanet) -- China's unmanned spaceship "Shenzhou IV" returned to earth on schedule Sunday evening from its seven-day flight.

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 experts.

ĦĦĦĦChinese would-be astronauts entered the spaceship prior to the launch to train.

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 experts.

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. Enditem

Related Stories:

    Shenzhou IV capable of manned space flight(2003/01/03) 

    Unmanned spacecraft operating normally(2002/12/31) 

    Senior Chinese leaders meet spacecraft launchers(2002/12/30) 

    Jiang congratulates successful launch of spacecraft(2002/12/30) 

    Senior Chinese leaders watch spacecraft launch (2002/12/30)

    China launches fourth unmanned spacecraft(2002/12/30)

    Backgrounder: China's previous three unmanned spaceships (2002/12/30)

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