Shenzhou 6 (Chinese:神舟6) was China’s second manned spacecraft, which is launched on Oct. 12, 2005, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Inner Mongolia. The spaceflight, propelled by the Long March 2F rocket, carried two crew members—commander Fei Junlong and operator Nie Haisheng. The liftoff marked the 243 human spaceflight.
The spaceflight finished its 343-kilometer orbit in five days and returned to the earth on Oct. 17. The reentry module landed successfully on the northern grassland ofInner Mongolia. During the space trip, the two astronauts received a call from Chinese President Hu Jintao. Nie also celebrated his 41st birthday while on the trip, listening to his daughter’s hum “Happy Birthday to You” to him from back on the earth.
Compared with Shenzhou 5, China’s first manned spacecraft, the Shenzhou 6 made many improvements on a variety of technologies. It is installed with food heating facilities, excretion collection containers, sterilizing cabinets and a sleeping bag. Researchers also redesigned the buffer of the seats so that the astronauts could see through the cabin windows and created testing equipment for the safety of the gate between the reentry module and the orbital module. The spacecraft also features an improved black box, which is faster than that installed in the Shenzhou 5 and provides more storage while only half as big.
To conduct experiments on genetic variation, the astronauts brought eggs, silkworm eggs and pu’er tea from Yunnan Province along with them on their trip to the space, along with other souvenirs, including stamps, calligraphy, paintings and flags.