The silkworms onboard China's 22nd recoverable satellite completed their 18-day space trip and returned to the Beijing Aerospace City successfully on Sept 18.
The "space silkworms" entered the space onboard China's 22nd recoverable satellite August 29, 2005. Six students from the Beijing Jingshan Middle School who participated in the experiment witnessed the unforgettable moment when the "silkworms" blast off with the satellite.
In 1999 NASA started to solicit space experimental plan among students around the world. Li Taotao, a student at grade four in Beijing Jingshan Primary School submitted a plan named "silkworm's spinning and cocooning in space", which aimed to study "silkworms' lifespan in the space". Li's plan was finally selected by NASA as part of the space biotechnology program. The experiment, planned to be conducted onboard Columbia in January 2003, was suspended due to the space shuttle Columbia's accident.
The experiment caught attention from Chinese scientific departments and all walks of society. Many noted scientists participated and gave their instructions. China Aerospace Science & Technology Corporation (CASC) finally decided to carry out the experiment onboard China's 22nd recoverable satellite.
The success of the "space silkworm" experiment shows advanced design of the satellite and reliability of the platform. It is capable to host more experiments in the future, said Tang Bochang, chief designer of the recoverable satellite.
(People's Daily September 20, 2005)