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Shenzhou-VII spacecraft completes orbit maneuver
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China's third manned spacecraft Shenzhou-7 completed orbit maneuver successfully at 4:04 a.m. (Beijing Time) on Friday, entering into the round orbit 343 kilometers above the earth.

The maneuver was executed under the precise control of the Beijing Aerospace Control Center (BACC). Physical condition of the three astronauts including their body temperature and blood pressure all stayed normal.

The orbital adjustment, which helped the spaceship move into a round orbit from an oval one, is vital to ensure the vessel's normal operation and landing in the targeted area. Before that, the spaceship was flying in an oval orbit with a perigee altitude of 200 kilometers and an apogee altitude of 350 kilometers.

The three astronauts onboard talked to the ground control center in Beijing at 0:16 a.m. and briefed on their working and physical condition.

The maneuver started at 4:03 a.m. as the orange flame was gushed out of the tail of the vessel, which began to pick up speed at the time.

The astronauts were fastened in their seats with calm and kept close watch on the data displayed on the instrument board.

Sixty-four seconds later, the spaceship was back to smooth flight. Zhai Zhigang reported to the ground: "The instrument board data showed the maneuver was completed."

BACC later proved the result after calculation, and said the maneuver had realized its target.

The astronauts are scheduled to assemble and test their extravehicular (EVA) suits in the orbital module later Friday, to prepare for China's unprecedented spacewalk that was planned on Saturday.

(Xinhua News Agency September 26, 2008)

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