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Shenzhou 1- November 19, 1999- unmanned test flight
2005-10-11 21:36:48    CRIENGLISH.com

Shenzhou 1 launched on November 19, 1999, was the first unmanned launch of the Shenzhou spacecraft. The spacecraft used was not equipped with a life support system or emergency escaping system. After orbiting the Earth 14 times, command for retrofire was sent by the Yuan Wang 3 tracking ship off the coast of Namibia at 18:49 UTC. After a successful reentry it landed about 415 km east of its launch pad and 110 km north-west of Wuhai, Inner Mongolia.

The first Shenzhou spacecraft was different to those later used. Instead of featuring unfolding solar panels, Shenzhou 1 was equipped with fixed solar cells. During this first flight there were also no orbit changes. According to Qi Faren the chief designer of the spacecraft, only 8 of the 13 sub-systems onboard the spacecraft were operational. Shenzhou 1 was designed primarily to test the Long March 2F rocket. The only areas tested on the spacecraft were the separation of the modules, attitude control, lifting body reentry, the heat shield, ground recovery.

It carried 100 kg of seeds to investigate the affects on them of the space environment. It is also thought that the front of the Orbital Module was equipped with a dummy ELINT package, with Shenzhou 2 onwards equipped with fully functional models.

It was announced in June 1999 that the flight would take place in October of that year. At about the same time images were released on a Chinese military internet forum of the Long March 2F launcher and the Vehicle Assembly Building that would be used.

Mission Parameters
Mass: 7,600 kg
Perigee: 195 km
Apogee: 315 km
Inclination: 42.6กใ
Period: 89.6 minutes
NSSDC ID: 1999-061A

(Source: Wikipedia)
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Shenzhou 6 is the second manned flight of China. It has been launched in October 2005, carrying two astronauts for five to six days in orbit.


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