Shenzhou 5
Shenzhou-5 spacecraft mockup and parachute displayed at the National Museum of China.
COSPAR ID2003-045A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.28043
Mission duration21 hours, 22 minutes, 45 seconds
Orbits completed14
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeShenzhou
Launch mass7,790 kilograms (17,170 lb)
Crew size1
MembersYang Liwei
Start of mission
Launch date15 October 2003, 01:00:03 (2003-10-15UTC01:00:03Z) UTC
RocketLong March 2F
Launch siteJiuquan LA-4/SLS-1
End of mission
Landing date15 October 2003, 22:22:48 (2003-10-15UTC22:22:49Z) UTC
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude332 kilometers (206 mi)
Apogee altitude336 kilometers (209 mi)
Inclination42.4 degrees
Period91.2 minutes

Yang Liwei
Shenzhou missions

Shenzhou 5 (Chinese: 神舟五号; pinyin: Shénzhōu Wǔ Hào, see § Etymology) was the first human spaceflight mission of the Chinese space program, launched on 15 October 2003. The Shenzhou spacecraft was launched on a Long March 2F launch vehicle. There had been four previous flights of uncrewed Shenzhou missions since 1999. China became the third country in the world to have independent human spaceflight capability after the Soviet Union (later, Russia) and the United States.


Position Crew Member
Commander China Yang Liwei
Only spaceflight

Mission parameters

Mission highlights

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 (杨利伟), a 38 year-old Lieutenant Colonel in the People's Liberation Army and former fighter pilot. The launch made China the third country to independently launch a person into space, after the Soviet Union and the United States. The launch of the Shenzhou was the result of a crewed space program which began in 1992.[3]

Neither the launch nor the reentry was televised live, but the time of both launch and reentry had been widely announced beforehand, and news appeared on Chinese Central Television within minutes after both events.

Orbital spaceflight

Shenzhou 5 re-entry capsule

The Shenzhou spacecraft made 14 orbits and landed 21 hours after launch. It re-entered Earth's atmosphere at 06:04 (UTC +8) on October 16, 2003 (22:04 UTC 15 Oct 2003), its parachute opened normally and the astronaut said 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.[4]

Premier Wen Jiabao congratulated the country's first person in space after his safe return to Earth. Yáng emerged from the capsule about 15 minutes later and waved to members of the recovery team.[5]

The control center in Beijing later declared China's first crewed spacecraft mission to be successful after Yang Liwei emerged from his capsule.[5]

Yang's experience in space

During the flight Yang wore diapers. When questioned about his experience aboard Shenzhou 5 he stated "Better not to piss in diaper...Baby doesn't like it, neither does an adult.[6]"

In addition, Yang reported abnormal vibrations that appeared 120 seconds after launch (pogo oscillation), which he described as "very uncomfortable."[7] As a consequence, corrective measures were taken to the design of the following CZ-2F carrier rocket for the Shenzhou 6 flight.[7]


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,[citation needed] it has also been pointed out in both Chinese and Western media that Yang Liwei showed the flag of the United Nations in addition to the flag of the People's Republic of China.[8][9] The state media also reported that crop seeds from Taiwan were brought aboard the spacecraft.[10] Both the Chief Executives of Hong Kong and Macau sent letters congratulating all the people involved in the mission and also the Central Government.[11][12]

General Secretary and President Hu Jintao, in an official celebration at the Great Hall of the People, hailed China's success in launching its first crewed spacecraft into orbit, describing it as "an honor for our great motherland, an indicator for the initial victory of the country's first crewed 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."[13]

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).[13]

The launch was met with praise from around the world. Prime Minister of Japan Junichiro Koizumi called the launch "a great feat".[14] United States President George W. Bush congratulated Chinese President Hu and wished China continued success.[15] A U.S. State Department spokesman said that the United States wished to "applaud China's success in becoming only the third country to launch people into space".[16] NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe called Shenzhou 5 an "important achievement in human exploration" and wished China "a continued safe human space flight program."[15]

The spacecraft has since featured prominently in festivities and celebrations not only in China but also in foreign countries, such as official North Korean commemorative stamps showing the first Chinese crewed spacecraft alongside the DPRK's first satellite Kwangmyŏngsŏng-1.[17]


See also


  1. ^ "Shenzhou". Encyclopedia Britannica. Archived from the original on 2021-12-26. Retrieved 2021-12-26.
  2. ^ a b c d e "SPACEWARN Bulletin 600". NASA. 2003-11-01. Archived from the original on 2021-10-22. Retrieved 2021-12-26.
  3. ^ "谱写航天梦的篇章--党中央推进载人航天工程纪实". 中华人民共和国中央人民政府 (in Chinese). 2013-07-25. Archived from the original on 2021-07-14. Retrieved 2021-07-14.
  4. ^ "SeeSat-L May-04 : Shenzou OM decayed". Archived from the original on 2016-07-04. Retrieved 2004-10-17.
  5. ^ a b "神舟五号载人航天飞行任务时间表". 中国载人航天 (in Chinese). 2008-09-17. Archived from the original on 2021-07-12. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  6. ^ "Better not to piss in diaper in space, says China's first spaceman". Xinhua. July 29, 2006. Archived from the original on January 25, 2020. Retrieved October 5, 2008.
  7. ^ a b ""神七"运载火箭完成总装和出厂测试 今将出征". 中国新闻网. 2008-07-19. Archived from the original on 2008-08-04. Retrieved 2008-07-19.
  8. ^ "航天员杨利伟在飞船中展示中国国旗和联合国旗". People's Daily. 2003-10-16. Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  9. ^ "Chinese Astronauts Begin Training For Spacewalk". SpaceDaily. 2007-07-19. Archived from the original on 2019-09-12. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  10. ^ ""神舟"五号载人飞船成功搭载台湾农作物种子". People's Daily. 2003-10-21. Archived from the original on 2012-03-24. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  11. ^ "HK chief executive's congratulation on Shenzhou-5 successful launch". 14 September 2018. Archived from the original on 26 September 2022. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  12. ^ "Macao Chief Executive congratulates motherland on breakthrough in space technology". 14 September 2018. Archived from the original on 26 September 2022. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  13. ^ a b "庆祝我国首次载人航天飞行圆满成功". 2003-11-08. Archived from the original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
  14. ^ "World Leaders Congratulate China's Space Mission Success". Xinhua News Agency. 2003-10-16. Archived from the original on 2020-11-23. Retrieved 2021-12-26.
  15. ^ a b Smith, Marcia S. (October 18, 2005). China's Space Program: An Overview (PDF) (Report). Federation of American Scientists. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 14, 2020. Retrieved December 9, 2022.
  16. ^ Boucher, Richard (2003-10-15). "Daily Press Briefing for October 15 — Transcript". United States Department of State—Office of Electronic Information, Bureau of Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 2020-11-23. Retrieved 2021-12-26.
  17. ^ "朝鲜6月18日发行胡锦涛、温家宝等中国领导人的邮票". 其乐邮币卡网. 2004-06-16. Archived from the original on May 15, 2008. Retrieved September 19, 2008.

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