Shenzhou 7

Infobox Space mission
mission_name = Shenzhou 7
insignia =
sign =
crew_members = 3
launch_pad = Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center
launch = September 25, 2008 at 21:10:04.988 CST (13:10:04.988 UTC)
landing = September 28, 2008 at 17:37 CST (09:37 UTC)
crew_photo =
crew_caption =
next = Shenzhou 8
previous = Shenzhou 6
duration =
orbits =

"Shenzhou 7" (zh-stp|s=神舟七号|t=神舟七號|p=shénzhōu qīhào) was the third human spaceflight mission of the Chinese space program. The mission, which included an extra-vehicular activity (EVA) carried out by crewmembers Zhai Zhigang and Liu Boming, marked the commencement of the second phase of the Chinese government's Project 921.

The Shenzhou spacecraft carrying the three crewmembers was launched September 25, 2008 by a Long March 2F (CZ-2F) rocket which lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 21:10 CST. [cite news|url=;_ylt=AlY9TmqX4L5d8TLlL7v1tjkPLBIF|title=China manned mission to follow Olympics |date=2006-11-20|accessdate=2007-11-20] The mission lasted three days, after which the craft landed safely in Siziwang Banner in central Inner Mongolia on September 28, 2008 at 17:37 CST.cite web | url= | title=Chinese taikonauts return as heros after landmark spacewalk | publisher= [ China View] | work= [ Window of China] | date=2008-09-28 | accessdate=2008-09-28] [cite web|url=|title ="神七""神九"将太空对接 "神七"准备工作顺利 (Shenzhou 7 and Shenzhou 9 to perform space rendezvous; Shenzhou 7 preparations for work going smoothly)|publisher= Longhu News Center|date=2008-03-04|accessdate=2008-05-01|language=Chinese] The EVA carried out during the flight makes China the third country to have conducted an EVA, after Russia and the United States.


The crew for Shenzhou 7 was announced on September 17, 2008. [cite web | url= | title=China names first "spacewalker" astronaut | publisher= [ China View] | work= [ Window of China] | date=2008-09-17| accessdate=2008-09-28]
*Zhai Zhigang (翟志刚) (1) - Commander
*Liu Boming (刘伯明) (1)
*Jing Haipeng (景海鹏) (1)

Numbers in parentheses indicates number of spaceflights by each individual prior to and including this mission.

Back-up crew

*Chen Quan (陈全) - Commander
*Fei Junlong (费俊龙)
*Nie Haisheng (聂海胜)

Of the back-up crew, only Chen Quan has not flown in space.

Mission highlights

The Long March rocket launched the Shenzhou 7 into an initial elliptical orbit of 200 x 330 kilometres inclined at 42.4 degrees on September 25. About seven hours later the spacecraft raised its orbit to a more circular orbit of 330 x 336 km.cite web | last=McDowell | first=Jonathan | url= | title=Jonathan's Space Report, Number 600 | work=Jonathan's Space Report | date=2008-09-26 | accessdate=2008-09-28] After three days in space, deorbit manoeuvres began on September 28 at 08:48, and the return module landed at 09:37 UTC at coordinates coord|42.278|N|111.355|E|display=inline|type:state_scale:3000000:CN.

China has been congratulated by a number of foreign leaders for the successful completion of the mission, [cite web | url= | title=Foreign leaders congratulate China on successful space mission | publisher = Xinhua | language=English | date=2008-09-28 | accessdate=2008-09-29] which marked a number of developments for China's space program, including several first-time achievements.

China's first three-person mission

Shenzhou 7 was the first Chinese space mission to carry a three-person crew for several days and conduct a full operation.Fact|date=September 2008 A total of six astronauts were trained, three to conduct the mission and three others to serve as a backup crew.

China's first spacewalk

On September 27, Zhai Zhigang, wearing a Chinese-developed Feitian space suit, conducted a 20-minute space walk, the first ever for a Chinese astronaut.cite web|url=|title=Taikonaut Zhai's small step historical leap for China |publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-09-27|accessdate=2008-09-28] cite web |last=McDowell |first=Jonathan |url= |title=JSR No. 601 draft |work=Jonathan's Space Report |date=2008-09-29 |accessdate=2008-09-29 ] Zhai slipped out of the orbital module in a head-first position at around 16:43 (0843 GMT) and wandered around the orbital module, retrieved experiment samples and waved the Chinese flag in space. The space walk lasted about 20 minutes, with Zhai returning to the orbital module at 17:00.cite web|url=|title=Chinese taikonaut greets nation, world in first spacewalk= Xinhua|date=2008-09-27|accessdate=2008-09-28] The first space walk was limited in scope: cables were used to tie Zhai to the handrail outside the orbital module, and his moving route was restricted to areas near the exits. Liu Boming, wearing a Russian Orlan-M suit, stayed in the airlock in the orbital module to provide help if necessary. Liu also conducted an EVA, standing up at 08:58 UTC to hand Zhai a flag. The third astronaut, Jing Haipeng remained in the re-entry module to monitor the general situation of the spacecraft.cite web|url=|title=神七日志:第三天 (Shenzhou 7 log: Day 3)|language=Chinese|publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-09-28|accessdate=2008-09-28] By 09:00 UTC both astronauts were back inside and the hatch was closed. The space walk was broadcast live on Chinese media, and two cameras provided panoramic images.cite web|url=|title=神七舱外新装2台摄像机拍摄航天员太空行走|publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-09-25|language=Chinese|accessdate=2008-09-28]

The Feitian spacesuit is similar to the Orlan-M (known as "Haiying", 海鹰, in Chinese) in shape and volume and are designed for spacewalks of up to seven hours, providing oxygen and allowing for the excretion of bodily waste.cite web|url=|title =China's astronaut outfitters design material for spacewalk suits|publisher= Xinhua|date=2007-06-01|accessdate=2007-12-02] According to Chinese media reports, spacesuit materials with such features as fire and radiation resistance were developed by several civilian corporations and national institutes.cite web|url=|title=神七出舱服装特种外层防护材料上海制造|publisher=中国服装款式网|date=2006-007-03|language=Chinese|accessdate=2008-09-28] cite web|url=|title=“神七”宇航服还是成都造|publisher= 中国服装款式网|date=2006-07-20|language=Chinese] Each suit was reported to have cost 30 million RMB (about 4.4 million USD).cite web | publisher=BBC news | url= | title=Chinese astronaut walks in space |date=2008-09-27 | accessdate=2008-09-28] cite web|url=|title =“神七”太空服每件造价1.6亿 将实现太空行走|publisher= Xinhua|date=2006-09-21|accessdate=2008-07-13|language=Chinese] Except for the gloves of the Feitian suit, the space suits were not brought back to earth.cite web| url= |title =China's indigenous Feitian space suit|publisher= [] |date=2008-09-25 |accessdate=2008-09-29] [cite web| url=|title=神七载人飞船返回舱搭载物亮相||date=2008-10-01|accessdate=2008-10-01]

A fire alarm was reported to the control center at the beginning of the EVA, but it was confirmed to be a false alarm.cite web|url=|title=王兆耀解释为何打开舱门相当周折:不可能着火 (Wang Zhaoyao explains why opening the cabin doors is safe: It cannot catch fire)|publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-09-27|language=Chinese|accessdate=2008-09-28] cite web|url=|title=Spokesman says fire alarm in Shenzhou-7 false, no fire breaks out|publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-09-27|accessdate=2008-09-28]

olid lubricant experiment

Scientists conducted a solid lubricant exposure experiment during the mission. A piece of equipment the size of a book was installed on the outside wall of the orbital module, and was later retrieved during the space walk, after having been exposed in the space for more than 40 hours. The experiment was aimed to study a lubricant which will be used for space-based moving components in future space facilities.cite web|url=|title=Chief designer says Shenzhou-7 has four tasks|publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-09-26|accessdate=2008-09-28]

Release of miniaturized satellite

A miniaturized satellite was released during the mission on September 27 at 19:24, after Zhai returned to the spacecraft. The satellite was a cube about convert|40|cm|in|abbr=on|lk=off long, with a mass of convert|40|kg|lb|abbr=off|lk=off; it carried boost devices and two 150-megapixel stereo cameras. [cite web|url=|title =伴飞小卫星将给神七“照相”(Banfei miniature satellite to "take pictures" of Shenzhou 7)|language=Chinese |publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-09-24|accessdate=2008-09-24 |accessdate=2008-09-28|language=Chinese|accessdate=2008-09-28] The satellite's tasks included testing the mini-satellite technology, observing and monitoring the spacecraft, and testing the tracking and approaching technology used for space rendezvous and docking.cite web|url=|title=Shenzhou-7 launches small monitoring satellite |publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-09-27 |accessdate=2008-09-28] According to the mission plans, the miniaturized satellite will first take photos and videos near the spacecraft, then maneuver to about convert|100|to|200|km|mi|abbr=off|lk=off away from the spacecraft. After the return module separates from the spacecraft and re-enters the atmosphere, the satellite will catch up to the orbiting spacecraft using a liquid ammonia engine, then continue to orbit near the spacecraft. The mini-satellite will work for about three months. [cite web|url=|title =伴飞小卫星将“追赶”分离后的神七轨道舱 (Banfei miniature satellite to "chase" Shenzhou 7 orbital module after separation)|language=Chinese|publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-09-24|accessdate=2008-09-24|language=Chinese]

Data relay satellite

China launched its first-ever data relay satellite, called "Tianlian I" (天链一号), from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center on a Long March-3C carrier rocket on April 25, 2008.cite web|url=|title=China blasts off first data relay satellite|publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-04-26|accessdate=2008-09-28] The Tianlian I satellite will be used to speed up communication between the Shenzhou 7 spacecraft and the ground stations, and to increase the amount of data that can be transferred to the ground. The Tianlian I satellite alone can cover 50 percent of the orbit of Shenzhou 7—whereas the Yuanwang space tracking ships, along with China's ten ground observation stations, have a coverage of only 12 percent—and thus will increase the total coverage to about 60 percent of the mission.cite web|url=|title=Chief designer says Shenzhou-7 has four tasks|publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-09-26|accessdate=2008-09-28]

Mission support and preparation


The Shenzhou 7 project consists of seven subsystems, with the Chinese military responsible for launching, recovering, crew, and tracking subsystems, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation responsible for the carrier rocket and spacecraft itself, and the Chinese Academy of Sciences responsible for the payloads on board the spacecraft (other than the crew).Fact|date=September 2008

Water training pool

A columniform water training pool of convert|23|m|ft in diameter and convert|10|m|ft in depth, located in China Astronaut Training Center, simulates the weightlessness experienced in space. A model of the Shenzhou orbital module has been used in the pool to train the crew for the space walk.cite web|url=|title=10米水下“太空漫步” (A "space stroll" under 10 meters of water)|publisher=|date=2008-09-25|accessdate=2008-09-28|language=Chinese]

Modifications to the CZ-2F carrier rocket

Special attention has been paid to solving vibration problems that were encountered 120 seconds into the Shenzhou 5 mission. These vibrations were described by Shenzhou 5 astronaut Yang Liwei as hard to endure.Fact|date=September 2008 Corrective measures were implemented for the Shenzhou 6 mission,Fact|date=September 2008 but since then more improvements have been added to the carrier rocket, to the pipes of the second stage, and to more than thirty other parts of the spacecraft..Fact|date=September 2008

Modifications to the spacecraft

The |date=2008-07-23|accessdate=2008-07-23|language=Chinese] More cameras have been installed on this spacecraft than on the Shenzhou 6 vessel, in addition to those covering the Orbital module and the Return module.

New space tracking ships

Two new, recently-commissioned Yuanwang-class tracking ships, Yuanwang-5 and Yuanwang-6, will play a key role in the Shenzhou VII mission. [cite web|url=|title =我国新一代航天远洋测量船完成海上设备精度鉴定|publisher=China Government online|date=2007-07-10|accessdate=2008-07-11|language=Chinese]


Custom-made, compact, foldable toilets allow the astronaut's collected urine to be recycled for use as drinking water. [cite web|url=|title =神七厕所南京制造 (Nanjing manufactures Shenzhou 7 toilets)
publisher= Xinhua|date=2008-09-03|accessdate=2008-09-03|language=Chinese

Project management

Most of the Shenzhou 6 project management team has stayed for the Shenzhou 7 mission. Changes in personnel include:
*General Project Manager and Commander Chen Bingde has been replaced, after his promotion to the position of Chief of the General Staff, by the current Director-General of the General Armaments Department, Chang Wanquan.Fact|date=September 2008
*First Vice General Project Manager and Commander Lieutenant General Hu Shixiang ( _zh. 胡世祥) has been replaced by the current Vice Director-General of the General Armaments Department, Lieutenant General Zhang Jianqi ( _zh. 张建启)Fact|date=September 2008
*Vice General Project Manager and Commander Zhang Qingwei has been replaced after his promotion to head of the ACAC consortium, by Ma Xingrui ( _zh. 马兴瑞), the head of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation
*Vice General Engineer of Shenzhou 6, Zhou Jianping ( _zh. 周建平) was promoted to General Engineer of Shenzhou 7, succeeding Wang Yongzhi.Fact|date=September 2008
*Director of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center: Major General Zhang Yulin ( _zh. 张育林) has been replaced, after his promotion to Chancellor of the National University of Defense Technology, by the Vice Director of Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center Major General Cui Jijun ( _zh. 崔吉俊)


False news report

A false news article appeared on Xinhua News Agency's [ website] on 25 September 2008, reporting mission events dated 27 September 2008; the article was reported in several mainstream news sources. [cite news|url=|title=China fakes reports from space |date=2008-09-26|accessdate=2008-09-26] cite news|url=|title=China space mission article hits Web before launch |author=Associated Press|date=2008-09-25|accessdate=2008-09-26] The report described in detail the launch, which had not yet occurred, as well as the process of tracking and data transfer by a tracking ship, and dialogue between the crew members in space. The report was taken down the same day, and when contacted by the Associated Press, a staffer stated that it had been a "technical error by a technician."

ee also

* Chinese space program
* Voskhod 2, first spacewalk mission, first Soviet spacewalk, first spacewalk from a 2-man crew mission
* Gemini 4, first US spacewalk mission, second spacewalk mission, second spacewalk from a 2-man crew mission


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