Tuesday, October 11, 2005


China to launch second manned space flight

The AP is reporting that China's second manned space flight is scheduled for Wednesday. As planned, the mission would be considerably more advanced than the first Chinese flight in 2003.

BEIJING -- China plans to launch two astronauts into orbit Wednesday for a mission lasting several days that is meant to seal its status as an emerging space power.

The mission, which reportedly could last up to five days, is more ambitious and riskier than China's first manned space flight two years ago, which lasted less than 22 hours.
The manned space program is a high-profile prestige project for the ruling Communist Party. The 2003 flight made China only the third nation, after Russia and the United States, to send a human into orbit on its own.

A rocket carrying the Shenzhou VI capsule will blast off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert of China's orthwest, the official Xinhua News Agency said Tuesday. It didn't give a time but said there would be a live television broadcast from the launch site.

Live coverage would be a first for the Chinese space program, which is at least as secretive as the Soviet space program ever was. The 2003 flight had no live coverage, and earlier reports indicated that the coverage of this flight will be shown “almost live” on Chinese television, but with a delay. Foreign reporters are not permitted at the lainch site, located in the Gobi desert, and Chinese journalists permitted to cover the event do so with the understanding that all photos, videos, etc., are subject to confiscation if the authorities deem it necessary. Presumably this restriction and the delayed television broadcast are to enable the government to keep a lid on things in case something goes wrong.

According to the official Xinhua news agency, this flight is much more involved than China’s fist manned flight, which like the American and Soviet flights of the early 1960’s, involved little more than a few orbits.

The flight this week will be more complicated than the 2003 mission, according to state media.
Reports say the two astronauts will take off their 22-pound space suits to travel back and forth between the two halves of their vessel -- a re-entry capsule and an orbiter that is to stay aloft after they land.


The Shenzhou -- or Divine Vessel -- capsule is based on Russia's three-seat Soyuz, though with extensive modifications. Space suits, life-support systems and other equipment are based on technology purchased from Russia.

"Divine Vessel"... funny name for a communist country to tag onto such a high-profile piece of equipment.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]