Tuesday, 14 October 2003

Any Day Now

Chinese Space Pop-ArtAs mentioned in several previous posts, China's about to send its first crewed space mission up. From Space Daily :
China began drumming up nationalistic sentiment Monday with days to go before its maiden manned space flight, as leading officials said it was just the first step to greater achievements.

The state-controlled media floodgates appear to have been opened by China officially acknowledging late Friday that it would join the United States and Russia in sending a man into orbit this week.
More details, also fromSpace Daily :
After months of secrecy, China confirmed Friday it will launch its maiden manned space mission next week with a flight that will orbit the Earth 14 times.

The Xinhua news agency cited an unnamed official in charge of the country's manned spaceflight program as saying Shenzhou V will blast off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwest between October 15 and 17.

He said the craft would orbit the Earth 14 times, suggesting the flight will last 21 hours.

This would distinguish China from the former Soviet Union and the United States, the only other nations to send a man into space, whose maiden flights in the 1960s lasted 108 minutes and 15 minutes respectively.
China has appeared caught in a dilemma over the imminent launch as it tries to balance the secretive needs of its military with the overwhelming propaganda mileage and national pride that would accrue with a successful mission.

Experts believe just one astronaut will make the trip, selected from a team of 14.
The Jiefang Daily, quoting chief designer for the Shenzhou spacecraft Qi Faren, said all possibilities had been factored in.

"The craft may land in the ocean or in the forests in a hostile environment," said Qi in comments picked up by a host of Chinese websites.

"For the safety of the astronauts, they will take a lot of things with them like a pistol, knife and other rescue equipment including a tent and liferaft so they will be able to deal with wild beasts, sharks and other dangerous animals or enemies."

If all goes well, Shenzhou V is expected to land in the vast plains of Inner Mongolia in northwest China.

Four unmanned Shenzhou capsules have so far been been launched since 1999.
Best of luck. Zhu nin hao yun.

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