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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Shenzhou 6

China has launched its second manned mission into space, its first mission with multiple crew.

The vessel, called Shenzhou 6, was launched last night at 9pm Eastern Daylight Time from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

The two astronauts aboard were Fei Junlong (left in the image at bottom) and Nie Haisheng.

Gemini 3 LaunchThe historic Shenzhou 6 launch is the rough equivalent of the U.S.A. Gemini 3 launch (pictured at left) in 1964, which made Virgil "Gus" Grissom and John W. Young the first American couple in space.

On October 15, 2003 China became - after the Soviet Union, then the U.S.A. - the third country ever to have launched its citizens into Earth orbit. The lucky astronaut was Lieutenant Colonel Yang Liwei, a former fighter pilot.

Space.com has respectable coverage of the Shenzhou 6 launch.

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I'd not thought of comparing Shenzhou-6 to Gemini-3, but you're right. That's about where it would be. The closest Soyuz comparision I can think of would be Soyuz-12 since that flight was a two person test of what was a redesigned spacecraft.

I've finally seen a couple of on-orbit photos of the crew in the DM and out out the "Sokol" style suits. It's way more roomy that Gemini astronauts could have hoped for back in the 60s.

It's good to see another blogger following this.

- By Blogger michael, at Wed Oct 12, 09:59:00 PM GMT+1  

I don't imagine this will garner a lot of press. It is yet another sign that "We're Number 1" USA is moving into the 21st Century as a powerful but not all powerful player in the world. China, India, Europe will continue to use the advances in technology to leapfrog over years of expensive R and D and right to the commercial end result. Psychologically I don't think the country, certainly not the current leadership, is prepared for a world where we are another seat at the table.

With budget cuts coming to pay for tax cuts, wars and Katrina, its hard to imagine NASA and manned space flight in the US is up for a resurgence. I think that is a shame. I wanted to be an astronught as a child and started getting astronomy magazine thanks to my grandma when I was 7. My family watched the entire Carl Sagan "Cosmos" series together and loved it. Astronaughts make science education cool, even to liberal arts guys like me. There is nothing like seeing the Earth from a high altitude, and all the teamwork it takes to get there to inspire faith in humanity. Commercial space flight is, a la the X prize and virgin galactic is still not ready for prime time.

It would also be nice to see us put space science discoveries back in the news instead of "intelegent design".

- By Anonymous Art Stevens, at Thu Oct 13, 05:50:00 PM GMT+1  

Good points there, Art, on the techno-leapfrogging.

I always seem to fall back on movie analogies, alas. But I'm reminded of a line from "Ben-Hur": "You don't win the race the first time around (the track). You win it the LAST time around."

- By Blogger Neal Romanek, at Fri Oct 14, 09:00:00 PM GMT+1  

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