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Space Satellite Lands in Sichuan Apartment

A section of a Chinese scientific satellite that was returning from orbit crashed into an apartment building on Friday, wrecking the top floor but causing no injuries, according to the Sunday Tianfu Morning News.

The cylindrical segment crashed into the four-story building in Penglai, a village in southwest China's Sichuan Province. A woman who lived in the apartment had reportedly walked out the door just five minutes earlier.

A photo in the Tianfu Morning News showed the kettle-shaped capsule, apparently about two meters long, lying amid broken bricks, beams and roof tiles. Another photo showed the capsule being lifted from the building as spectators crowded onto surrounding rooftops.

"The satellite landed in our home. Maybe this means we'll have good luck this year,'' the tenant of the wrecked apartment, Huo Jiyu, was quoted as saying.

The crash resulted from weather conditions and problems in the unit's propulsion system, according to Chen Zugui, senior designer of spacecraft navigation and control systems at the China Academy of Space Technology, or "5th Academy."

Chen said that China's satellite landing technologies are mature and the nation leads the world in landing accuracy. He noted that there have been no human injuries in 30 years of satellite landings, and assured the public that there is no need to worry.

The section that hit the apartment had been detached from a satellite launched 18 days previously. The rest of the satellite is expected to remain in orbit, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

(China.org.cn October 18, 2004)

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