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China only third nation to put man in space
Anil K Joseph in Beijing | October 15, 2003 09:00 IST
Last Updated: October 15, 2003 10:29 IST
China on Wednesday declared that its maiden launch of a manned spacecraft -- Shenzhou V -- carrying an astronaut has been 'successful' and all systems onboard are working perfectly.
"Shenzhou V has entered precisely the preset orbit," an official in charge of the country's manned spaceflight programme said, minutes after the blast off, which took place at 0630 hours IST.
Yang Liwei, 38, became the first Chinese national to enter outer space, and China, the third country to conduct manned spaceflight after the former Soviet Union and the United States.
"The spacecraft and the carrier rocket separated at around 0910 am (0640 hours IST), and the spacecraft entered its preset orbit precisely," said the official.
Shenzhou in Chinese means 'divine vessel'.
At about 0930 am (0700 hours IST), the first earth-to-space dialogue was conducted between doctor Li Yongzhi on the ground and astronaut Yang, the command and control centre in Beijing said.
"I feel good and my conditions are normal," Yang told the doctor about his body temperature and blood pressure.
The ace fighter pilot-turned astronaut said he was fully confident of the nation's first-ever spacefaring, Xinhua news agency quoted Yang as saying just before the Long March 2 rocket blasted off.
Yang, 38, was born to a teacher's family in Suizhong county in the northeastern Liaoning province. He has an 8-year-old son.
As a fighter pilot, Yang had at least 1,350 hours of flight experience. His comrades describe him as a 'miraculously dedicated' man.
Yang had two backups, Zhai Zhigang and Nie Haisheng. They were chosen from among air force fighter pilots like Yang.
Chinese President and the general secretary of the ruling Communist party, Hu Jintao, was personally present at the launch site in northwest China's Gansu province.
The following are the launch dates of the four unmanned space missions:
More reports from China