Posted: Sun, Jan 5, 2003, 3:17 PM ET (2017 GMT)
China's Shenzhou 4 spacecraft landed as expected early Sunday, wrapping up what may be the final unmanned test flight before China attempts to launch humans into space. The spacecraft landed at 6:16 am EST in central Inner Mongolia, the same location the previous three Shenzhou spacecraft landed. Chinese officials said that the spacecraft landed successfully, and images of the spacecraft at the landing site released by Chinese media appeared to verify that. Shenzhou 4 was launched late Sunday, December 29 on a Long March 2F and remained in orbit for six days and 18 hours, or 108 orbits, approximately the same time as the previous two tests. Officials said earlier in the week that Shenzhou 4 was functionally identical to the version of the spacecraft that will carry humans into orbit, with one project official saying a manned flight would take place in the second half of 2003 if Shenzhou 4 had a successful flight.