Wednesday, October 15, 2003

China in Orbit!

China's first manned spaceflight, Shenzhou 5, took off from the Jiuquan launch site atop a Long March 2-F booster at 9 pm EDT last night, and astronaut Yang Liwei, a 38 year old pilot and lieutenant colonel in the Chinese armed forces, is reported to be in good spirits as the flight proceeds. Landing is expected around 7 pm EDT this evening after 14 orbits. Like Russian capsules, the Shenzhou will land on earth, not water, somewhere in Inner Mongolia.

Although this first flight is naturally a cautious one, China's program appears to be extremely ambitious - considerably more so than ours at the moment - , and space writer James Oberg reports on the possible future for China in space here.

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