China formally launched its official space program in September 1992.
November 20, 1999 saw the first experiment craft, Shenzhou I being
On January 10, 2001, the unmanned spacecraft, Shenzhou II, returned safely to
On March 25, 2002, another unmanned spacecraft, Shenzhou III, was launched
and returned safely on April 1, 2002.
On December 30, 2002, the Shenzhou IV unmanned craft was launched and
returned to earth on schedule from its seven-day flight. It is the highest
caliber test craft in the Chinese space program to date. 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.
Currently, preparations are well under way for China's first manned space
mission, known as Shenzhou V, widely expected to rocket an astronaut into orbit
within the next few weeks or months, said Science and Technology Minister Xu
Guanhua on September 16, 2003. (China.org.cn)