BEIJING, November 21 (Xinhua) — China’s first experimental
spacecraft, part of the country’s manned space flight program,
touched down in the central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in
north China at 3:41 a.m. (Beijing time) today, successfully
concluding the first flight of the system.

As another milestone in China’s astronautical history, the
successful launching and retrieval of the spaceship marks the
country’s new major breakthrough in manned space flight technology.

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the
State Council and the Central Military Commission have sent a
message of congratulations on this event.

The space vehicle, named “Shenzhou” by President Jiang Zemin,
was launched with a new model of “Long March” rocket at 6:30 a.m.
(Beijing time) on November 20 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch
Center in northwest China’s Gansu Province.

Ten minutes after takeoff, the spaceship detached itself from
its launching vehicle and entered its preset orbit.

The Spacecraft and carrier rocket were made by China itself.
And the experimental flight was unmanned this time.

According to technical staff working at the launch site, the
satellite launch center for the first time completed at its
technological workshop the general assembly in a vertical way and
tests of the combined body of the space aircraft and booster

The center also transported the combined body of the space
aircraft and booster rockets to the launching site vertically and
used the technology of long-distance monitoring and control of the

China has built a new land-sea based space monitoring and
control network which meets international standards and put it
into operation in this first experimental launch.

During the spacecraft’s flight in orbit, it was traced,
monitored and controlled by ground monitoring and controlling
system and four surveying ships, named “Yuan Wang,” stationed at
high seas. They successfully conducted a series of scientific

Officials with the organization work said that China started to
implement the manned space flight program in 1992. He described
the program as a huge system that embodies great cooperation
between various trades of the country. The success was a major
step toward China’s manned space flight cause.

The spacecraft was developed and manufactured mainly by the
China Research Institute of Carrier Rocket Technology under the
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the Chinese

Research Institute of Space Technology and Shanghai Research
Institute of Astronautical Technology.

The Beijing Aerospace Directing and Controlling Center
organized the tracing, surveying and controlling of the test
launch. Relevant departments of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
and the Ministry of Information Industry took part in the
designing, manufacturing and testing in the project.

This was the 59th launch of the “Long March” carrier rocket
series, and its 17th successful launch in a row in the recent
three years.

Manned space flight technology is the most difficult one in the
aerospace area. In the past, the United States and Russia were the
only countries that had this technology.