"Shenzhou" (神舟), China's first manned experimental spacecraft, launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 6:30 a.m. Beijing time on Nov. 20, 1999. After the scheduled in-space tests were finished, the spacecraft successfully landed in the central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at 3:41 a.m. the next day. The success of the Shenzhou spacecraft constituted a crucial step in reaching the next level in space technology.
The spacecraft and rockets were built based wholly on domestic developments in China, with efforts from the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, China Academy of Space Technology, Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology and China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.
During ground preparation phase, the launch center had adopted the international advanced method of the "three vertical" model; that is, they allowed the body of the rocket to remain vertical during the processes of assembly, testing and transportation. The launch was also designed to permit remote operation. These designs constituted a good foundation for the technology of manned spaceships.
China had also established an integrated international network comprising of TT (telemetry tracking) ground stations and ships, marking the first time it had accomplished TT missions for experimental spacecraft. The Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center organized a series of tests on tracking, measurements and control.
Through the data from the TT network, the spaceship was observed separating from the rockets 10 minutes after launch before entering its preset orbit. After the vessel successfully achieved orbit, ground tracking and telemetry stations, as well as the "Yuan Wang" TT ship, carried out a series of scientific experiments.