The successful launch of China's first manned spaceship Wednesday morning represents a pride of the whole Chinese nation noted for its industriousness and independent development.
Just as Chinese President Hu Jintao said after the successful launch that China has surprised the world by using its own rocket and spaceship to send a man into space and this is something the 1.3 billion Chinese people are proud of.
The success after decades-long efforts by thousands of innovative and creative Chinese space scientists and engineers.
Zhang Qingwei, general manager of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CAST), manufacturer of the spacecraft and the carrier rocket, said the series of major breakthroughs made over the past decades have contributed to the successful launch.
"The 13 key technologies applied in making the spacecraft are all developed on our own and they are comparable with the most advanced levels in the world," said Zhang.
"Ten key technologies we applied to the 'Long March 2F', the carrier of the spaceship, are also the most advanced in the world," said the general manager, who used to be a rocket expert before he took up the present post two years ago.
The manned spaceship is designed and made by Chinese scientists entirely on their own, Chief Designer Qi Faren said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua. "The five orbital modules of the spaceship are also the first in the world that are capable of remaining in orbit for half a year as a lab for carrying out scientific experiments."
The Long March series of rockets, which have made many successful launches, including commercial launches, have won international approval for their reliability and cost-effectiveness.
China did consider importing technologies for the fairing of the rocket from Russia, a key component that enables rocket to fly steadily, Zhang recalled. "But Russia's offer of US$10 million is too much for us. We have to rely on ourselves."
Huang Chunping, commander-in-chief of the rocket system of China's manned space flight program, said "Long March 2F" was developed on the basis of "Long March CZ-2 E," according to the technical requirements for manned space flight.
With unique fault detection systems and escape systems, the rocket measures 58.3 meters in length and has a takeoff payload of 479.8 tons. It is the longest and heaviest rocket China has ever developed, said Huang.
Since 1970, the Long March rockets have made 71 launches, sending 52 Chinese satellites, 27 foreign satellites and five "Shenzhou" spaceships into orbit, and there were only six failures, with a success rate that has made China one of the leading launch vehicle-making nations in the world.
Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut put into space, was locally trained, though two Chinese instructors received training in Russia.
(Xinhua News Agency October 15, 2003)