Shenzhou 5 was launched at 09:00 (UTC +8) from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, a launch base in the Gobi Desert in Gansu Province, entering orbit 343 km above Earth at 09:10 (UTC +8) with astronaut Yang Liwei, the 38 year-old Lieutenant Colonel in the People's Liberation Army and former fighter pilot. The launch made the PRC the third country to independently launch a person into space, after the Soviet Union and the United States. The launch of the Shenzhou is the result of a manned space program which began in 1992.
Neither the launch nor the reentry was televised live, and it is widely believed that it was due to government fears that a disaster could create an embarrassment, but the time of both launch and reentry launch had been widely announced beforehand, and news appeared on Chinese Central Television within minutes after both events. This placed the level of secrecy associated with the Shenzhou V mission between American and Soviet practices. In contrast to American practice, foreign journalists were not admitted and live television was not broadcast; in contrast to Soviet practice, the fact that a launch was about to occur was announced days in advance and photos and video from the mission were available within minutes of launch and reentry.
Shenzhou 5 reentry moduleIt made 14 orbits and landed 21 hours after launch. The Chinese manned spacecraft re-entered Earth's atmosphere at 06:04 (UTC +8) on 16 October 2003 (22:04 UTC 15 Oct 2003), its parachute opening normally and the astronaut saying he was feeling fine. The landing happened at 06:28 (UTC +8), just 4.8 kilometers from the planned landing site in Inner Mongolia, according to the government. The orbital module of the spacecraft stayed in orbit; it continued with automated experiments until March 16, 2004, and decayed on May 30 .
Premier Wen Jiabao congratulated the country's first person in space after his safe return to Earth. Yang emerged from the capsule about 15 minutes later and waved to members of the recovery team.
The control center in Beijing later declared China's first manned spacecraft mission to be successful after Yang Liwei emerged from his capsule.
The launch was widely heralded in the official Chinese state media with newspapers devoting far more space to the launch than any recent event. While the Chinese media portrayed the launch as a triumph for Chinese science and technology and a milestone for Chinese nationalism, it has also been pointed out in both Chinese and Western media that the Yang Liwei showed the flag of the United Nations in addition to the flag of the People's Republic of China.
President Hu Jintao, who was on-site at the Jiuquan Launch Center, hailed China's success in launching its first manned spacecraft into orbit, describing it as "an honor for our great motherland, an indicator for the initial victory of the country's first manned space flight and for an historic step taken by the Chinese people in their endeavor to surmount the peak of the world's science and technology."
Hu added, "the Party and the people will never forget those who have set up this outstanding merit in the space industry for the motherland, the people and the nation." He also expressed congratulations and respect to specialists and people who have contributed to China's space mission development on behalf of the CPC Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission (CMC) and its chairperson Jiang Zemin.
Mass: 7,790 kg
Perigee: 332 km
Apogee: 336 km
Period: 91.2 minutes
NSSDC ID: 2003-045A
Mission name: Shenzhou 5
Number of crew: 1
Launch: October 15, 2003 01:00:03 UTC
Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center
Landing: October 15, 2003 22:22:48 UTC
Duration: 21 hours, 22 minutes, 45 seconds