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China sends two astronauts into space

BEIJING, Oct. 12 (Xinhuanet) -- Amidst world attention, China on Wednesday convincingly proved its first multi-manned and multi-day spaceflight an "mission possible" and successful.

    About 40 minutes after liftoff, the chief commander of China's manned space program declared a successful launch of the country's second manned spacecraft Shenzhou-6.

    A pair of Chinese astronauts in orbit about 350 km above the Earth reported to the ground that they were "feeling good" and everything was normal.

    "Normal" was the most used term during the half hour since the blastoff at 9:00 Wednesday morning in the dialogue between the control centers in Beijing and remote Gobi Desert city of Jiuquan and the spacemen in space.

    They reported to doctors on the ground that they are in good physical conditions during the space voyage.

    TV pictures show they were comfortably flipping and reading flight books, proving that they felt at ease and more comfortable than Yang Liwei, the first Chinese into space who said he felt strong tremor about 120 seconds after liftoff.

    Yang, now a national hero, is also among the audience in the Jiuquan launch center together with top Chinese leaders including Premier Wen Jiabao.

    Colonel Fei Junlong and Colonel Nie Haisheng, in their much more spacious cabin than Shenzhou-5, uncovered the face shield of their space suits, waving hands to the TV camera as if to say hello to people on the ground and, probably, millions of Chinese tied before TV sets for this historic moment.

    In their home villages in Jiangsu and Hubei provinces respectively, neighbors and fellow villagers flooded into their parents' home. Fei's mother, a typical Chinese farmer housewife refusing to tell anything about his son, began to talk about Fei's childhood after they watched the successful launching. At the sametime, Nie's sister wept for his brother's countdown to ignition.

    Premier Wen said in a brief speech of congratulations minutes after the successful launch that "We launch Shenzhou-6 out of peaceful purpose." China sent its first piloted spacecraft into space two years ago and became the third country able to carry manned space mission after the United States and Russia.

    Wen expressed his hope that all the planned space tests will bewell organized and accomplished. Shenzhou-6 is Chinese's first attempt to conduct man-tended tests in space.

    Spendings on the Shenzhou series has reached roughly 19 billion yuan (2.3 billion US dollars), less than 10 percent of the United States' annual spending on space programs, said Pan Houren, a research follow with the Space Science and Application Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

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(From www.xinhuanet.com XINHUA online)

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