In October 2003 China became the third nation – after the U.S. and Russia – to send an astronaut into space without help from other nations. And Yang was the first person from China to make it into space without aid from other countries, too. The mission he flew, as part of the Chinese space program, was known as Shenzhou 5.
The mission blasted off from China at 9:00 a.m. local time on October 15, 2003. Moreover, during his time in space Yang completed 14 orbits of the planet, traveling nearly 400,000 miles in the process. But it wasn’t all plain sailing – even if you discount the bizarre sounds that haunted his flight around the Earth.
No, from the early stages things weren’t ideal. For instance, strong and uncomfortable vibrations were felt just 120 seconds into the launch of Shenzhou 5. In fact, these vibrations were so severe that the Chinese space program redesigned its rocket system for the launch of its next space mission, Shenzhou 6.