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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 October, 2003, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Spaceman's day in orbit
Yang Liwei as he heads to board the Shenzhou V spacecraft
Yang Liwei has enjoyed his space experience so far
Not long after take-off, the man carrying China's space hopes on his shoulders radioed back all was well on the historic flight.

"I feel good," Yang Liwei told mission control half an hour into the flight, Xinhua news agency reported.

The man selected at the last minute for the mission because he showed a calm mental state during psychological tests seemed at ease on board his Shenzhou spacecraft.

At midday, he enjoyed a simple but nutritious lunch of diced chicken and rice with dates and nuts, and then took a three-hour nap.

In a call to his family later on, Yang Liwei confirmed his initial impression of space travel.

I caught the sight of our beautiful home [the Earth] and recorded all that I've seen here
Yang Liwei to his son
"I'm feeling very good in space, and it looks extremely splendid around here," the 38 year-old astronaut told his wife, Zhang Yumei, who also works for the Chinese space programme.

"The view of the universe is beautiful," he said during the call, almost halfway into his 24-hour jaunt around the Earth.

"I caught the sight of our beautiful home [the Earth] and recorded all that I've seen here," he told his eight-year-old son.

He also spoke to ground control and his boss: "Don't worry - I'm going to work hard to accomplish the task," he told Defence Minister Cao Gangchuan.

Yang Liwei unfurled two flags for ground control to see - China's and the United Nations'.

Space treats

Apart from performing in-flight tasks and recording his trip, Mr Yang has time for three meals altogether while he is in outer space.

Some of the delicacies on offer include spicy and sour shredded meat and other meat as well as fish and dessert, washed down with a drink of medicinal herbs and tonics, according to a top space official.

"We planned the recipes in a scientific way, in such a way as to ensure that the food will be nutritious enough for space missions while tasting good," Su Shuangning, head of the team for developing the astronaut support system, told Xinhua.

"Space food" is limited in quantity and size, and is designed to produce no residue that may keep sputtering in the capsule.

It is also designed to suit the astronaut's physiological changes in the weightless situation, as space flights result in loss of calcium in bones, atrophy of muscles, and a drop in red blood cell count, the official said.

Convenience food

In their early space flights, Soviet and American astronauts were given liquid or semi-solid food in toothpaste tube-like container.

But astronauts nowadays can eat roughly the same way as when they are on Earth.

According to Su Shuangning, China-made space food is largely in one-bite size.

They are coated with an edible protective covering for the convenience of the astronaut who can eat one piece at each bite.

Yang Liwei may look forward to a proper meal when he lands at about 0700 on Thursday (2300 GMT Wednesday) after orbiting the Earth 14 times.


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