Experiments being carried out in the orbiting capsule of China’s historic Shenzhou V space flight ended Tuesday after 152 days of tests related to space environmental monitoring. With the end of scientific experiments, the capsule is expected to slowly decrease its orbit until it burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere in the coming weeks. The orbiting capsule was part of the Shenzhou V mission which in October sent China’s first ever astronaut Yang Liwei into space, making China the third nation following the former Soviet Union and the United States to place a human in orbit.
Following Yang’s successful mission, China hopes to launch the Shenzhou VI next year in a flight that will place two astronauts in orbit for between five and seven days. During his flight last October, Yang circled the Earth 14 times.
China’s space ship has differed from both the Russian and US models and is made up of a propulsion unit, a return capsule and an orbiting module that can stay in orbit for up to seven months following launch. Information gathered by the experiments, including the monitoring of the Sun’s magnetic field during a solar storm, have been sent back to Earth digitally by the orbital capsule, China Central Television reported.