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Shenzhou III Unmanned Spacecraft Launched

Press Release From: People's Daily
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2002

China launched another unmanned spacecraft, "Shenzhou III", 10:15PM Monday night (Beijing Time) from Jiuquan Satellite Launching Center of Gansu Province, and ten minutes after blast-off, the spaceship entered its preset orbit.

President Jiang Zemin watched the launch of China's 'Shenzhou III' unmanned spacecraft Monday night at the Jiuquan Satellite Launching Center of Gansu Province. He extended his congratulations and made an important speech.

The successful launch at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gansu Province was China's third in a series of flights expected to lead to a first manned space flight. It marked a step forward in China's manned space program.

China conducted its first test flight of "Shenzhou" in 1999 at the Jiuquan launch site. And according to a plan, it will launch more unmanned spacecraft until a manned spaceship takes shape.

"Shenzhou III" is composed of an orbital module, returning module, booster rockets and an additional module. Compared with its predecessor, the new spacecraft has been improved in structure and technological qualities to ensure better security and reliability.

The spaceship, made solely by Chinese scientists and engineers, is expected to return in a few days. During the flight, experiments on space life sciences, space materials, space astronomy, physics and micro-gravity will be conducted.

The "Long March II F" carrier rocket that carries the spacecraft was a new powerful product made in China especially for the manned space program. Its overall structure, power system, control system and remote monitoring system has been improved to ensure reliability, and new trouble-shooting system and life-saving system have been added for better safety of the spacemen.

The spacecraft was developed and manufactured mainly by the Chinese Research Institute of Space Technology under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, and Shanghai Research Institute of Astronomical Technology. The carrier rocket was made by the China Research Institute of Carrier Rocket Technology under the Aerospace Corporation.

This was the 66th launch of the "Long March" carrier rocket series, and its 24rd successful launch in a row since October 1996.

Expert Gives Explanation to Secrets about 'Shenzhou III'

The reason for the postponement of the launching of "Shenzhou III" was due to the "repeated changes" made in its setting-ups

According to Zhuang Fenggan, an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Director of the Sci-tech Commission of China Astronautics Technology Group, the "Shenzhou III" should have been launched last year yet in the course of preparation we would like to make a better job of the original settings.

However, we discovered before the launching some of the changed settings were no better than the original and had to turn back, and so the delay up to now. When dealing with the launching of manned spaceship we've set a very high criterion on its reliability. And this reliability is not based on "calculation" but on adequate experimentation to verify it. From the technical point of view, it is of no importance as to when the spaceship is going to be launched and what is of importance is the safety guarantee of spacemen to be launched into the space and their safe return. The spacemen can vow that we "fear neither of hardships nor of death" but technicians must not do like that. We have to ensure the safety of them and make sure that no slightest mishap will happen.

No complete settings were geared up before the launching of "Shenzhou I", only with some major parts as revealed by Zhuang Fenggan, and the "Shenzhou II" had some other settings added onto it. The "Shenzhou III" is however installed with settings for simulated persons, for instance the settings for guaranteeing the life of spacemen. The set of system is not only very complicated but also very expensive.

When the "Shenzhou III" is launched into the orbit it is going to carry out some tasks for space exploration and experimentation. The relatively independent orbit-cabin in connection with the life-guarantee and safe return of the spacemen will continue to stay and work in the orbit for around half a year after the launching. And in addition, the launching this time will again carry another satellite into the space. This is where lies the difference between "Shenzhou III" and the previous two of them.

It is sure to incur some troubles when sending a monkey into the space if it is loosened.

Why we did not send some primates first before the launching of manned spaceship as did the other countries

To this, Zhuang Fenggan answered that it's an easy job now for us to make some simulated men and not like that a dozen years ago when we were faced with technical problems. Moreover the testing of blood pressure is not to measure the real blood pressure but a simulated one and these can be fulfilled by sending into the space a simulated person. If a monkey is sent up, it is sure to make some troubles skipping and fumbling about when loosened. We have to guarantee the safety of persons on the one hand but on the other we also have to protect the animals or otherwise the animal protection organization will lodge protests against us.

The spaceship can store up solar energy to be transported back onto the earth.

What we are going to do after the manned spaceship is launched into the space

And how far is it away from the populace? Its main job is going to carry out experimental work in the orbit-cabin and experiments on the application targets. The concrete experimentation items are in the hands of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, for instance the survey of geo-resources and environment, exploration of resources in the space, which refers to the micro-graviturnon and solar energy, etc. These experiments seem to have nothing to do with the common people but the ultimate purpose is to offer a better service to them.

This year sees no manned spaceship launched into the space.

Last year the Japanese "Yomiuri Shimbon" ever reported that China would realize the launching of manned spaceship into the sky by the later half of 2002, and these days we've also learned of some relevant revelation that China's manned spaceship is expected to be launched next year.

To all this, Zhuang Fenggan said: what we want to say is still that we must first make sure the normal state of the manned spaceship and guarantee the safety of the spacemen and it would be better to man it after more trial flights. It's of no importance to be a little earlier or later. This year, we are unable to realize what the Japanese media has said. Should the conditions turn out good and work be carried out smoothly it is possible for us to lunch another unmanned spaceship up into the sky but it will be again an experimental one.

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