|Mission type||Test flight|
|Mission duration||21 hours, 11 minutes|
|Launch mass||7600 kg|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||19 November 1999, 22:30 UTC|
|Rocket||Long March 2F|
|Launch site||Jiuquan, LA-4/SLS-1|
|Contractor||China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT)|
|End of mission|
|Landing date||20 November 1999, 19:41 UTC|
|Landing site||Inner Mongolia|
|Reference system||Geocentric orbit|
|Regime||Low Earth orbit|
|Perigee altitude||195 km|
|Apogee altitude||315 km|
Shenzhou 1 (simplified Chinese: 神舟一号; traditional Chinese: 神舟一號; pinyin: Shénzhōu Yīhào) launched on 19 November 1999, was the first unmanned launch of the Shenzhou spacecraft. The spacecraft used was not equipped with a life support system or an emergency escape system. After orbiting the Earth 14 times, the command for retrofire was sent by the Yuan Wang 3 tracking ship off the coast of Namibia at 18:49 UTC. After a successful reentry it landed about 415 kilometres (258 mi) east of its launch pad and 110 kilometres (68 mi) north-west of Wuhai, Inner Mongolia.
The first Shenzhou spacecraft was different from those later used. Instead of featuring unfolding solar panels, Shenzhou 1 was equipped with fixed solar cells. During this first flight there were also no orbit changes. According to Qi Faren, the chief designer of the spacecraft, only 8 of the 13 sub-systems on board the spacecraft were operational. Shenzhou 1 was designed primarily to test the Long March 2F rocket. The only systems and capabilities tested on the spacecraft were the separation of the modules, attitude control, lifting body reentry, the heat shield, and ground recovery.
The spacecraft is thought to have carried 100 kilograms (220 lb) of seeds to investigate the effects on them of the space environment. It is also thought that the front of the Orbital module was equipped with a dummy ELINT package, with Shenzhou 2 onwards equipped with fully functional models.
It was announced in June 1999 that the flight would take place in October of that year. At about the same time images were released on a Chinese military internet forum of the Long March 2F launcher and the Vehicle Assembly Building that would be used. After a reported[who?] propellant explosion at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (though the explosion was denied by Chinese officials) the launch was pushed back.