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Congressional Research Service, "China's Space Program: An Overview," October 21, 2003

This CRS report is written by Marcia S. Smith, Specialist in Aerospace and Telecommunications Policy.
October 21, 2003


The People's Republic of China launched its first astronaut, or "taikonaut," Lt. Col. Yang Liwei, on October 15, 2003 Beijing time (October 16 Eastern Daylight Time). China thus became only the third country, after Russia and the United States, able to launch humans into orbit. Lt. Col. Yang landed on October 16 Beijing time (October 15 EDT) after making 14 orbits (21 hours and 23 minutes). The launch is raising congressional interest in the nature and scope of the Chinese space program. The implications of China's entry into the field of human space flight is unclear. Some may welcome a new entrant in the human exploration of space, some may view it as an indicator of Chinese technological advancements that could pose a threat, and others may find the event unremarkable, coming as it does 42 years after the Soviet Union and United States accomplished the same feat. This report will not be udpated.

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