China became the third country in the world to have independent human spaceflight capability after the Soviet Union and the United States.

Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center / Image sousce

Shenzhou 5 was the first human spaceflight mission of the Chinese space program, launched on 15 October 2003 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center with astronaut Yang Liwei, a 38 year-old Lieutenant Colonel in the People’s Liberation Army and former fighter pilot. Shenzhou was launched on a Long March 2F launch vehicle.

The spacecraft developed and operated by China using Soyuz technology to support its crewed spaceflight program. The name is variously translated as divine vessel, divine craft, or divine ship. Its design resembles the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, but it is larger in size.

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