Shenzhou 7 carries three Chinese astronauts. The highlight of their mission is a space walk.
Zhai Zhigang, born in October 1966 in Heilongjiang Province, enlisted in the People's Liberation Army in 1985. In his service as an Air Force fighter pilot, he accumulated 950 hours of safe flight time. In January 1998, he was selected in the first batch of astronauts. He was shortlisted for Shenzhou 5 and Shenzhou 6 missions respectively in 2003 and 2005.
Liu Boming, born in September 1966 in Heilongjiang, joined the People's Liberation Army in 1985 and has clocked 1,050 hours of safe flight time. Liu was also one of the six astronauts in the final training for the Shenzhou 6 mission in 2005.
Jing Haipeng, born in October 1966 in Shanxi Province, joined the People's Liberation Army in 1985 and has clocked 1,200 hours of safe flight time. Jing was among the six trainees for the Shenzhou 6 mission in 2005.
The spacecraft, which consists of the orbital module, reentry module and propelling module, is designed for a voyage of up to five days. In reality the Shenzhou 7 mission only lasts about three days.
Scientists, engineers and other staff working for the mission are grouped into eight different systems-astronaut system, space application system, manned spacecraft system, rocket system, launch pad system, remote control and communication system, landing system and space laboratory system.
An astronaut carries out a 30-minute extravehicular activity (EVA), but it takes nearly 15 hours to assemble and put on the EVA suit. The EVA task includes retrieving a 3-kg solid lubricant experiment device placed on the exterior of the spacecraft module.
A total of 30 emergency plans have been made for the space walk alone.
80 food varieties
The astronauts have an extended menu of nearly 80 foods, as compared to the 50-odd varieties on the 2005 Shenzhou 6 mission. Choices include spicy kung-pao chicken, deshelled shrimp and dried fruits.
The 100-meter-tall launch tower is equipped with an emergency chute for astronauts. It is about 1,500 meters away from the ground control center.
220 technical modifications
Compared with Shenzhou 6, more than 200 technical modifications have been made to Shenzhou 7.
Shenzhou 7 flies in a circular orbit 343 km above the Earth after an orbit transfer from an elliptical orbit.
The spaceship entered orbit about 583 seconds after blast-off with the Long March 2-F rocket.
(Source: Xinhua News Agency)