On September 27th, a Chinese Shenzhou space capsule came within 45
kilometers of the International Space Station, and two of the three crewmen
made the first Chinese space walk (going outside the spacecraft in their space
suits.) Later, a small, 88 pound microsatellite (the BX-1) was released from
the Shenzhou. This was supposed to be a science experiment, but the fact that
the Shenzhou came so close to the International Space Station, and then
released a smaller, maneuverable (via small gas jets) BX-1, indicated another
satellite destruction drill. The BX-1 could easily have been directed at the
nearby space station, and destroyed it.
China denied this, but they were also criticized for bringing the Shenzhou so close to the International Space Station,
and then releasing a smaller satellite that they subsequently lost control of.
The 7.8 ton
Shenzhou was built along the same lines as earlier Russian Soyuz (which the Chinese had extensive technical data
on). The Shenzhou is 13 percent larger than the Soyuz craft, and, naturally, of
more modern design. So far, there have been three unmanned Shenzhou launches
(1999, 2001 and 2002) to test the system, and three manned launches (2003, 2005
and 2008) so far. The very first space walk, was by a Russian, in March, 1965.
The first American space walk was three months later. Four years later, there
was the first space walk on solid ground, when two Americans landed on the