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Facts on China's Shenzhou spacecraft
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Sept 23, 2008

China's Shenzhou VII spacecraft will carry three astronauts into orbit this week to undertake the nation's first space walk.

Here are some details about Shenzhou:

-- Shenzhou means "Divine Vessel" (or "God Vessel" or "Magic Vessel").

-- It has a dome-shaped design and is comprised of three modules -- a forward orbital module, a re-entry module and a service module at the back.

-- The ship can seat up to three astronauts or "taikonauts."

-- The basic design of the re-entry module is modelled after the Russian Soyuz vessel that was first launched some 40 years ago.

-- The orbital module will be manned by two astronauts with one performing the space walk.

-- The orbital module can remain in orbit after the re-entry module returns to earth and can serve as a building block for an eventual space laboratory.

-- The first Shenzhou was launched on 19 November, 1999 and orbited the Earth 14 times before landing under parachute.

-- Three subsequent Shenzhou spacecrafts were launched, leading up to the Shenzhou V, China's first manned mission in 2003 carrying a single taikonaut.

-- Shenzhou VI, China's second manned space flight, carried two taikonauts on a five-day mission in 2005.

-- Shenzhou capsules have flown at altitudes from 196 to 334 kilometres (122 to 207 miles).

-- The capsules are built by the state-run China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.

-- The Shenzhou VII spacecraft will be launched by a Long March 2F rocket, the type used for years to ferry Earth orbit satellites.


Related Links
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
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Jiuquan, China (XNA) Sep 23, 2008
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