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Shenzhou 5 launch

People's Daily (Beijing)



Since the press release this afternoon, this information has appeared on

Launch date:     October 15, 2003
Launch time:     09:00 Beijing time
Flight duration: 21 hours
Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu Province is at 42.4 deg North

The 9 AM Beijing time (01:00 GMT) launch  gives a possible pre-dawn visual
pass across the
35 to 40 deg N latitude band --  it's possible that a satellite tracker will
actually SEE the bird.

From: Ted Molczan

Preliminary orbital elements on a report of an 8 AM (0 h UTC)
launch time; however, there is discussion on FPSPACE and a report at
spacedaily.com pointing to launch at 9 AM (01 h UTC) and a 21 h mission

Elliptical Parking Orbit until 2003 Oct 15 at 07:50 UTC

Shenzhou 5       7.8  2.5  0.0  5.4 d
1 70000U          03288.67587361  .00788058  82648-5  58603-3 0    31
2 70000  42.4069  26.2082 0099929 134.5463  16.8336 16.04205144   103

My guess is that the spacecraft will trail a short distance behind the
rocket during this period.

Circularized Orbit after 2003 Oct 15 at 07:50 UTC

The spacecraft will circularize its orbit as it passes through apogee for
the 5th time, about 7 h after launch, whereupon it will be in this orbit:

Shenzhou 5       7.8  2.5  0.0  5.4 d
1 70001U          03288.67700930  .00036000  00000-0  19749-3 0    17
2 70001  42.4080  26.2791 0004797 163.8920 321.6647 15.78791273   101
Has anyone confirmed the "best guess" Kep. elements for the Shenzhou launch

VERY preliminary Shenzhou-5 Visibility Expectations (From James Oberg)

Based on the 9 AM Beijing time launch on October 15, and using the orbital
path of the Shenzhou-1 precursor mission (Chinese space officials have
explicitly confirmed this), I used my WinTrak satellite prediction program
to find visibility opportunities.

I didn't expect much, because the vehicle is low (making the visibility band
narrow) and moving west-to-east at the latitude of twilight (making the
length of the opportunity short). But with its solar panels and external
brightness, it should be a fairly noticeable object.

First US pass: emerges from shadow over Altoona, PA, at 09:57 UT, moves due
eastward (visible from as far west as Columbus, looking eastward). From
Washington, DC area is 60 deg elevation in northern sky. Passes directly
over NYC area at 09:58 UT and fades into dawn sky.

Second US pass: emerges from shadow east of Denver at 11:28 GMT, elevation
40 deg from Denver; passes directly over Omaha, NE, at 11:29 and fades into
dawn sky.

Third US pass: emerges from shadow over Eureka, CA, at 13:00 GMT, visible
from San Francisco bay area in northern sky, elevation 40 deg. Passes north
of Winnemucca, NV, at 13:01 and fades.

There's even a chance to see it from Beijing on the last rev prior to
landing, but a difficult view - into the east, elevation 20 deg as it
emerges from shadow at 20:35 UT (4:35 AM local) heading east (and lower in
the sky). This pass is much better from South Korea, halfway up the northern
sky at 20:36 UT (5:36 AM local).

What frequency should Earth observers (AMSAT) be listening to?


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