Shenzhou 1

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Shenzhou 1
Mission type Test flight
COSPAR ID 1999-061A
SATCAT no. 25956
Mission duration 21 hours 11 minutes
Orbits completed 14
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type Shenzhou
Launch mass 7,600 kilograms (16,800 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date November 19, 1999, 22:30 (1999-11-19UTC22:30Z) UTC
Rocket Chang Zheng 2F
Launch site Jiuquan LA-4/SLS-1
End of mission
Landing date November 20, 1999, 19:41 (1999-11-20UTC19:42Z) UTC
Landing site Inner Mongolia
41°N 105°E / 41°N 105°E / 41; 105
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 195 kilometres (121 mi)
Apogee 315 kilometres (196 mi)
Inclination 42.6 degrees
Period 89.6 minutes
Shenzhou missions

Shenzhou 1 (simplified Chinese: 神舟一号; traditional Chinese: 神舟一號; pinyin: Shénzhōu Yīhào) launched on November 19, 1999, was the first unmanned launch of the Shenzhou spacecraft. The spacecraft used was not equipped with a life support system or an emergency escape system. After orbiting the Earth 14 times, the command for retrofire was sent by the Yuanwang 3 tracking ship off the coast of Namibia at 18:49 UTC. After a successful reentry it landed about 415 km east of its launch pad and 110 km north-west of Wuhai, Inner Mongolia.

The first Shenzhou spacecraft was different from those later used. Instead of featuring unfolding solar panels, Shenzhou 1 was equipped with fixed solar cells. During this first flight there were also no orbit changes. According to Qi Faren the chief designer of the spacecraft, only 8 of the 13 sub-systems on board the spacecraft were operational. Shenzhou 1 was designed primarily to test the Long March 2F rocket. The only systems and capabilities tested on the spacecraft were the separation of the modules, attitude control, lifting body reentry, the heat shield, and ground recovery.

The spacecraft is thought to have carried 100 kg of seeds to investigate the effects on them of the space environment. It is also thought that the front of the Orbital Module was equipped with a dummy ELINT package, with Shenzhou 2 onwards equipped with fully functional models.

It was announced in June 1999 that the flight would take place in October of that year. At about the same time images were released on a Chinese military internet forum of the Long March 2F launcher and the Vehicle Assembly Building that would be used. After a reported[who?] propellant explosion at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (though the explosion was denied by Chinese officials) the launch was pushed back.

Mission parameters[edit]

  • Mass: 7,600 kg
  • Perigee: 195 km
  • Apogee: 315 km
  • Inclination: 42.6°
  • Period: 89.6 minutes
  • NSSDC ID: 1999-061A

See also[edit]