WikiNow lets you discover the news you care about, follow the topics that matter to you and share your favourite stories with your friends.

© WikiNow

The Shenzhou program is a manned spaceflight initiative by China. The program put the first Chinese citizen, Yang Liwei, into orbit on 15 October 2003.

Shenzhou program
Nie Haisheng gets out of reentry.jpg
Nie Haisheng exits the re-entry capsule of Shenzhou 6 at the main landing field in Central Inner Mongolia.
Chinese 神舟
Hanyu Pinyin Shénzhōu

The Shenzhou program (/ˈʃɛnˈ/, Chinese: 神舟) is a manned spaceflight initiative by China. The program put the first Chinese citizen, Yang Liwei, into orbit on 15 October 2003.

Development began in 1992, under the name of Project 921-1. The Chinese National Manned Space Program was given the designation Project 921 with Project 921-1 as its first significant goal. The plan called for a manned launch in October 1999, prior to the new millennium.

The first four unmanned test flights happened in 1999, 2001 and 2002. These were followed with another manned launch on 12 October 2005. It is launched on the Long March 2F from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The command center of the mission is the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center. The China Manned Space Engineering Office provides engineering and administrative support for the manned Shenzhou missions.

The name is variously translated as "Divine Ark", "Divine Vessel" or similar, but is also a reference to a literary name for China with the same pronunciation (神州 Shénzhōu; literally "Divine Land").