Second Chinese Manned Spaceflight To Land Early Monday
Observers predict China's second manned spaceflight capsule,
Shenzhou VI, will touch down early Monday morning (Beijing time) at
the primary landing site located in Inner Mongolia, in China's
northern region -- although Chinese officials have said the exact
landing site will not be determined until just hours prior to
"Decision will be made six hours before the spacecraft's return
whether the re-entry capsule will land at the primary landing site
in Inner Mongolia or this northwestern standby site," Zhu Yabin,
chief of the land search and rescue team, told China’s
official Xinhua News Agency.
The backup site is located in the northwestern Jiuquan region,
according to Xinhua.
Taikonauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng were reportedly
preparing for the return to earth Monday after orbiting the earth
for five days, China's longest spaceflight to date. To date, the
two-man capsule has flown nearly 1.8 million miles and has orbited
the earth 71 times.
Officials added the Shenzhou capsule -- a much modified variant
of Russia's long-serving Soyuz -- has provisions to remain in orbit
as long as seven days. Nevertheless, weather appears to be
favorable for a Monday return at the primary site.
As many as six helicopters, 14 special vehicles and more than
200 recovery workers having been mobilized for the capsule's return
at the primary landing site, said chief commander in charge of
landing Sui Qisheng.
"We have drawn out detailed plans to ensure that rescue workers
and equipment will arrive at where the capsule lands," Sui told
Fei and Nie (file photo, above) thanked the Chinese people
Sunday morning for their support. "We're grateful for the deep love
and concern by all Chinese people, the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan
compatriots," Nie said in a space-to-ground transmission.
Fei added that he and Nie were "feeling good" and "happy" with
The Shenzhou VI mission is seen as a vital step in China's
plans towards developing a manned space station in earth orbit. The
crew has conducted science experiments while in orbit, as well as
dealing with a situation where the craft's
altitude initially wasn't high enough to sustain orbit around
The crew conducted a correction burn Friday to lift the Shenzhou
into the correct orbit.