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First manned space mission 'complete success'
( 2003-10-15 11:20) (chinadaily.com.cn)

China's first astronaut Yang Liwei walked out of the re-entry capsule of the Shenzhou 5 (Divine Vessel V) spaceship, smiling and waving to the recovery team Thursday morning in the grasslands in Gobi Desert, Inner Mongolia, state television pictures showed.

Yang waves to recovery teams after walking out of the return capsule. [Xinhua]
Yang has spent 21 hours in outer space, traveling more than 600,000 kilometres in the earth's orbit before Shenzhou 5 brought him back at 6:07 am Thursday morning Beijing time. Yang said he feels excellent after the 21-hour journey, the first by a Chinese.

Chinese premier Wen Jiabao said in a congratulation message Thursday morning that China's first manned spaceflight has been a "complete success", which shall be written into the history of China's space program development.

After Yang went out of the capsule, physicians immediately conducted a physical check-up of Yang, which found him in good conditions. At around 7:40am, Yang was ferried by a military helicopter to Beijing, where a gala celebration party will be held.

At about 6:00am Thursday, guided by the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center, the return capsule of Shenzhou 5 entered China's air space. Several minutes later, the capsule landed safely in Northwest China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and Yang reported "conditions good".

Five rescue helicopters raced towards the capsule and found it at 6:36 am. They said Yang felt good and the conditions with the capsule also seemed normal.

At 6:51, Yang Liwei went out of the capsule on himself, waving and smiling to rescuers and reporters.

Li Jinai, chief commander of China's space program, said that, the actual landing site is 4.8 kilometers from the designed site, but the conditions of the return capsule are good and Yang could walk out of the capsule on himself. All these marked the complete success of the manned flight.

*** Spacecraft blasts off into space

The Shenzhou V blasted off into space at 9:00am Wednesday morning in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China's Gansu Province, making China the third country in the world to send a person in the orbit after the former Soviet Union and the U.S.

Minutes after the launch, the craft carried 38-year-old Yang, an air force pilot since 1983, into the orbit at 9:10.

"I feel good," Yang radioed back from space after a half-hour in flight in the earth's orbit, his face vividly seen on the watch big screen in the Beijing Control Centre, located in Haidian District, northwestern Beijing. Yang's report drew loud applause.

General Li Jinai, commander of the country's manned space program, was quoted by CCTV as saying the spacecraft was operating normally in orbit.

President Hu Jintao watched the launch at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China's Gansu Province.

Hu called the launch "the glory of our great motherland and a mark for the initial victory of the country's first manned space flight and for the significant, historic step of the Chinese people in the advance of climbing over the peak of the world's science and technology."

He said that:" The Party and the people will never forget those who have set up the outstanding merit in the space industry for the motherland,the people and the nation."

Hu and Vice-Premier Huang Ju flew to Jiuquan Tuesday afternoon after the third plenum of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee concluded Tuesday morning in Beijing. Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice-President Zeng Qinghong and other top Chinese leaders watched the event at the Beijing control center.

Yang's clothing in flight consisted of 14 layers that took 15 minutes to don with the help of technicians, the general commander of the astronaut program, Su Shuangning, told Phoenix Television. Yang's space suit cost more than $12 million, Su said.

The menu for his flight included freeze-dried shredded pork with garlic sauce and fried rice, and he brought along a sleeping bag for naps, CCTV said.

*** Shenzhou-5 completes orbit shift

Shenzhou-5 completed orbit shift at 15:57 Wednesday (Beijing time), according to a report by astronaut Yang Liwei and the ground monitoring result.

The Shenzhou-5 entered an elliptic orbit with a perigee of 200 kilometers and an apogee of 343 kilometers.

During the orbit shift, the spaceship was propelled into a circular orbit of 343 kilometers from the Earth, the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center announced, adding that this step is essential for the spaceship's on-track flight and accuratelanding.

The Shenzhou-5 entered its preset orbit about 10 minutes after the launch.

*** Greeting the world from space

Yang Liwei said "hello" to people all over the world while his spaceship was taking the 7th circle around the globe at around 6:40pm. It was the first Chinese greeting to mankind's mother planet from outer space, though the people of the country had been dreaming of this for thousands of years.

"I feel good," said Yang in his capsule.

During his orbital flight, Yang, who almost spent a sleepless night for pre-launch preparations, took a sweet "space snooze" for nearly three hours and was also believed to have enjoyed one or two "space meals".

On his space menu were typical Chinese dishes like spicy-and- sour shredded meat and sliced chicken meat, traditional desserts like "Eight-Treasure-Rice" and a drink of Chinese herbal tea, sources said.

At around 5:30 p.m. Beijing time, Yang had a short conversation with Cao Gangchuan, China's defense minister and vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, via live communications systems. And two and a half hours later, he told his wife and son in a family chat "it looks extremely splendid around here."

Live footage showed Yang in good spirit in his capsule, as he once again told General Cao that he was feeling fine.

"I will strive to complete my tasks well and ensure the full success of the mission," Yang pledged.

Yang then displayed a five-star national flag of China and a United Nations flag, both of the miniature size, in his capsule.

This move was intended to highlight China's persistent pursuit of peaceful exploration of space, sources said.

*** Congratulations

In Washington, Pentagon spokeswoman Cheryl Irwin said, "We wish them success and for their astronaut's safe return."

NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe also congratulated on China's first successful human space flight. "This launch is an important achievement in the history of human exploration. China, after Russia and the United States, is only the third nation to successfully launch humans into space. The Chinese people have a long and distinguished history of exploration. NASA wishes China a continued safe human space flight program." O'Keefe said.

Wednesday's launch makes China the third country to put a human into space. The former Soviet Union sent Yuri Gagarin up in 1961; the United States launched Alan B. Shepard Jr. a month later. John Glenn became the first American in orbit in 1962.

*** "I will not disappoint the whole nation"

CCTV released a picture of Yang Liwei, 38, a pilot since 1983, boarding Shenzhou 5 about 8 am (8 p.m. EDT) Wednesday.

"I will not disappoint the whole Chinese people and the motherland. I will complete each movement with total concentration. And I will gain honor for the People's Liberation Army and for the Chinese nation," Yang took an oath before boarding.

Yang, who is 5 feet, 6 inches tall, was born in 1965 in Youzhong County in Liaoning province, an industrial area in China's northeast. His older sister said he was an athletic child who enjoyed swimming and ice skating. He works for the Aviation Military Unit of China's People's Liberation Army.

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