26 September 2008

Shenzhou 7 launched

The Chinese have launched their third manned spaceflight. ZUI this article from Sky News:
China's third manned space craft has successfully launched in what is seen as a key mission in the country's space programme.

Shenzhou VII blasted off from central China with three astronauts on board.

The three-day mission will underscore China's technological ambitions in space with the nation's first space walk.

On Saturday, an astronaut is scheduled to float out of an airlock on the craft 200 miles above the earth for a 40min space walk.

The success of the walk is seen as vital to the establishment of a Chinese space station in the year ahead.

This is China's third manned venture since 2003 when it joined the United States and Russia as the only countries to have sent men into space.

ZUI also this article from the Beeb:
China's three astronauts have spent their first day in orbit preparing for the mission's spacewalk.

A 42-year-old fighter pilot, Zhai Zhigang, is due to carry out the 20-minute manoeuvre at 1630 Beijing Time (0830 GMT) on Saturday.

It will be the first time Chinese yuhangyuan (astronauts) have ventured outside their spacecraft.

Their Shenzhou VII capsule soared into orbit on a Long March II-F rocket from Jiuquan spaceport in north-west China.

The rocket put the Shenzhou capsule in a near-circular orbit more than 300km above the Earth.

Mr Zhai is joined on the mission by two other "yuhangyuan" - Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng.


During their 68 hours in orbit, the astronauts will be able to enjoy an unprecedented choice of food. The menu includes spicy chicken with peanuts, shrimps and dry fruits.

"We have tried to make them taste like stir-fried dishes they have on Earth," Chen Bin, who is in charge of food for the astronauts, told state-run news agency Xinhua.

At the end of the mission, the Shenzhou re-entry capsule will target a landing in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

And to make things interesting, ZUI this article from Sky News:
State media in China reported the successful launch of the Shenzhou VII space craft hours before the actual event took place.

The report on Xinhua's website said the ship had been successfully tracked over the Pacific Ocean, and even included exchanges between the three astronauts on board.


The state news agency blamed the blunder on a "technical problem".

This article from Wikipedia has background information on Shenzhou 7. (Standard disclaimers apply.) Spacefacts.de has photos and some background information on Zhai, Liu and Jing.

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