Forty Years Late, China Joins the Space Race

By Holland, Lorien | The Independent (London, England), November 22, 1999 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Forty Years Late, China Joins the Space Race


Holland, Lorien, The Independent (London, England)


CHINA OFFICIALLY joined the manned space race over the weekend by launching a craft designed to carry astronauts into outer space. The breakthrough flight by the Shenzhou, or "magic vessel," means that Peking is likely to send humans into space next year, some four decades after the former Soviet Union and the United States.

The dome-shaped craft, which resembled the Apollo series that took American astronauts to the moon in the late Sixties, was in space for 21 hours and orbited the globe 14 times. It re-entered the Earth's atmosphere early yesterday local time, making China the third nation in history to launch a vehicle capable of carrying humans into space.

State television and newspapers were swift to hail the test flight as a step towards putting the nation of 1.3 billion firmly on the world map and building national pride. Although China remains a poverty-stricken agricultural nation, where the average annual income is less than pounds 200 and urban unemployment is rising, it has strong ambitions to regain its former glory and become a world power in the 21st century.

"The successful test flight demonstrates that China's spacecraft and new carrier rocket are excellent in performance," the official Xinhua news agency said. "China deserves a place in the world in the area of high technology.

"This shows that China is fully capable of independently mastering the most advanced technology."

Phillip Clark, a British expert on the Chinese programme, said: "This looks to have been an excellent start to the Chinese manned space programme and puts them on a course for a manned flight in about a year's time."

China's state television showed footage of the craft blasting off from the Jiuquan satellite launch centre in the northwestern province of Gansu at 6.30am on Saturday (22.30 GMT Friday).

The craft detached itself from its launching vehicle, the new generation Long March 2-F rocket, and entered orbit 10 minutes after take-off, guided by China's newly constructed space control network.

Its touch-down was on the grasslands of Inner Mongolia at 3.30am yesterday (1930 GMT Saturday).

According to the aerospace news magazine Flight International, the spacecraft was understood to be based on the Russian Soyuz, but with two pairs of solar panels to generate on-board power and a cylindrical forward module rather than the Soyuz's spherical one. It is believed to have a mass of 8.4 tons and could take up to four astronauts.

China launched its first rocket in 1959, one year after the late chairman Mao Tse-tung declared that China would develop atomic bombs, missiles and satellites to compete with the best of the world's technology.

Although Peking's progress was hampered by isolation and a series of disastrous political campaigns, it still put its first satellite into space in 1970.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Forty Years Late, China Joins the Space Race
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?