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China posts fake rocket launch story
September 26, 2008

  • Rocket launch described before it takes off
  • Detailed dialogue between astronauts included
  • Story posted due to "technical error"
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CHINA'S leading Xinhua news agency reported the successful flight of the Shenzhou VII - complete with detailed dialogue between the astronauts -  hours before the nation's third-ever manned space mission had even lifted off.

On Thursday morning, Xinhua posted a story on its website saying the Shenzhou capsule had been successfully tracked flying over the Pacific Ocean even though the rocket and its three astronauts had not yet been launched.

The article, dated September 27, described the rocket in flight, complete with a sharply detailed dialogue between the three astronauts.

Excerpts are below:

"After this order, signal lights all were switched on, various data show up on rows of screens, hundreds of technicians staring at the screens, without missing any slightest changes ...

"One minute to go!' 'Changjiang No.1 found the target! ...

"The firm voice of the controller broke the silence of the whole ship. Now, the target is captured 12 seconds ahead of the predicted time ...

"The air pressure in the cabin is normal!

"Ten minutes later, the ship disappears below the horizon. Warm clapping and excited cheering breaks the night sky, echoing across the silent Pacific Ocean."

An editor at Xinhau told AFP that the story had been posted due to a technical problem.

"We dealt with it after we had found it," the editor said.

The Shenzhou VII was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwestern China  shorlty after 9pm (AEST) Thursday.

The mission, expected to last three to four days, is devoted almost entirely to the execution of the spacewalk, and is expected to help China master the technology for docking two orbiters to create the country's first orbiting space station in the next few years.

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