Shenzhou 6 Spacecraft Returns to Earth

By Keith Cowing
October 16, 2005
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Shenzhou 6 Spacecraft Returns to Earth

According to China’s official news agency, Xinhua, the Shenzhou 6 reentry module landed at at 4:32 am local time. On board were astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng.

This was China’s second manned mission – and its first mission with two astronauts on board. China’s first manned mission, Shenzhou 5, was launched in 2003 with a single astronaut, Colonel Yang Liwei on board. Shenzhou 5’s mission lasted for 14 orbits – a few hours short of one day.

The Shenzhou 6 misison began last Wednesday. According to Xinhua the spacecraft orbited Earth more than 70 times and traveled more than 1.9 million miles (3 million kilometers) during its mission.

While the reentry module and the Shenzhou 6 crew returned to Earth, the spacecraft’s orbital module is still in orbit. As was the case with previous Shenzhou missions, this orbital module will continue to operate autonomously for months to come.

China space program watchers have speculated that China may eventually begin to build a space station piece by piece using these orbital modules as components.

Related Links

CRS Report: China’s Space Program: An Overview, Congressional Research Service

Recent China Space News, SpaceRef

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.