From lift-off to landing

Shanghai Star. 2003-10-16

CHINA'S first manned spacecraft, the Shenzhou V, lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the northwestern province of Gansu at 9:00am, October 15.

This mission makes China the third nation to send a man into outer space, following the former Soviet Union and the US.

Before take-off the astronaut, Yang Liwei, 38, was strapped into the command module reading a flight manual, looking composed and at ease, sources at the mission-control centre at the Jiuquan launch centre said.

The Xinhua News Agency reported that the astronaut's movements could be monitored from the large screen in the mission-control centre.

Ten minutes later, the latest type of rocket booster, the Long March II F, separated from the space vehicle which entered into orbit 343 kilometres above the earth.

It took 90 minutes for the ship to circle the earth on the first of its planned 14 orbits. The astronaut was to return to earth at 6:00am Thursday, October 16.

After the booster was discarded a squad with helicopters and special vehicles were activated to search for the "black box" flight recorder.

The remnants of the escape rocket and booster stage should be found respectively in Inner Mongolia and Shanxi Province.

The cylinder-shaped "black box", actually decorated with white with red stripes, contained important data about the early stage of the mission.

By 11:00am on October 15, the spaceship had successfully entered into the second stage of the mission, with Yang changing from a prone to a sitting posture, observing outer space through the round capsule window.

At 11:15am Yang began his lunch, selecting from a range of processed Chinese dishes such as "gongbao jiding" (quick-fried chicken and peanuts) and "babao fan" (glutinous rice steamed with eight ingredients). The food had been made into small rectangular, spherical or cubic portions, in contrast to those consumed by American or Russian astronauts, who sucked food from tube-type containers.

The spacecraft carried the Chinese national flag, as well as flags of the United Nations and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The special national flag bears the signature of its designer Zeng Liansong.

The command module was travelling at a speed of 7.5 kilometres per second on its re-entry into the earth's atmosphere, with surface temperatures on the outside of the capsule reaching 2,000 to 3,000 degrees Celsius.

(Star News)

Copyright by Shanghai Star.