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Shenzhou 3 orbital module finishes "important mission"
Posted: Sun, Oct 13, 2002, 11:55 AM ET (1555 GMT)
Shenzhou illustration by Simon Zajc The orbital module of China's Shenzhou 3 spacecraft has completed its imaging tasks six months after launch, according to a Chinese media report. The spacecraft was launched in March as part of the Shenzhou 3 mission and remained in orbit after the descent module returned to Earth at the beginning of April. According to a report in the Chinese newspaper PLA Daily, via the AFP news agency, the spacecraft "had finished its observation talks" by early October, collecting what it called "valuable scientific data" while in orbit. The fate of Shenzhou 3 was not revealed; the spacecraft is in a circular orbit about 300 km in altitude, and is not expected to reenter for at least a month. There had been speculation that the spacecraft might remain in orbit long enough to serve as a rendezvous target for Shenzhou 4, widely speculated as the last unmanned test flight before China attempts to launch humans into space for the first time. Shenzhou 4, though, may not launch until early 2003.
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