Space: October 3, 2003


China's first manned space mission is tentatively scheduled for October 15 with the launch of Shenzhou 5, a domestically manufactured spacecraft based on the Russian Soyuz. Speculation as to what kind of missions the secretive Chinese are planning to fly is increasingly focused on Electronic Intelligence (ELINT). An antenna array on the front of the spacecraft appears to be designed for locating radar emissions, which would allow tracking of Carrier Battle Groups among other things. The additional payload space is dedicated to an optical imaging system which would allow mapping and surveillance with a resolution of 1.6 meters. Government officials claim that the mission will also include an experiment to test the effects of zero gravity on seeds, but after offering to fly some seeds for Taiwan, this seems little more than a gesture. -- Tom Georgianna


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