The Chinese astronaut, Yang Liwei, today landed back on Earth safely after a successful voyage in space. He touched down safely near the designated spot in the grasslands of the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia. The Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, hailed the first manned space mission as a “complete success”. The scientists behind the project confidently spoke of plans that would extend China’s scientific frontiers as a space-faring nation. At 6.07 A.M. (Beijing time) on Thursday, the re-entry capsule of the Shenzhou V spacecraft returned in a picture-perfect state during the high-risk phase of the passage back through the atmosphere. Thereafter, Mr. Yang walked out of the module.
The 38-year-old Mr. Yang, an Air Force officer of the People’s Liberation Army, had spent 21 hours in space, completing 14 orbits and covering an estimated 600,000 km. During his orbit, Mr. Yang displayed the miniature flags of the People’s Republic of China and the United Nations. All the pre-landing manoeuvres, which began in space itself at 5.35 A.M., were carried out according to the plans worked out by the Chinese scientists at the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Centre. With this mission spreading cheer, the Director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, Xie Mingbao, told reporters in Beijing that Shenzhou VI spacecraft might be launched “in one or two years” from now. Noting that China had spent about $2.2 billions on this first manned space mission, Mr. Xie said that there was no plan at the moment to develop a space shuttle programme.
Source: The Hindu
17th October 2003.