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Background Information on China's Human Spaceflight Program

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 15-Jun-2012
Updated: 11-Jun-2013 09:01 AM

China's human spaceflight program, Project 921, officially began in 1992.   The scheduled launch tomorrow of Shenzhou-9 is the ninth flight in the series, but only the fourth to carry a crew.

Shenzhou 1-4 were automated tests of the spacecraft; Shenzhou-8 was an automated test of rendezvous and docking procedures with the Tiangong-1 space station, which also was unoccupied.  The following table provides information on the three crewed missions flown to date and tomorrow's mission.


 Mission  Launch Date  Crew Comments
 Shenzhou-5  Oct. 15, 2003 Yang Liwei First Chinese human spaceflight mission;
21 hours, 23 min
 Shenzhou-6  Oct. 12, 2005 Fei Junlong
Nie Haisheng
First Chinese 2-person crew;
5 day mission
 Shenzhou-7  Sept. 25, 2008 Zhai Zhigang
Liu Boming
Jing Haipeng

First Chinese 3-person crew;
First Chinese spacewalk (by Zhai for 22 min, Liu
also did stand-up EVA in airlock for about 2 min)
3 day mission;
small (40 kg) subsatellite ejected


 July 16, 2012

Jing Haipeng
Liu Wang
Liu Yang

Scheduled: 10 day mission;
manual docking with Tiangong-1 space station;
Liu Yang first Chinese woman astronaut


The Tiangong-1 space station was launched in September 2011.


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