China's state news agency published a despatch from the country's three latest astronauts describing their first night in space before they had even left Earth.
Last Updated: 8:24PM BST 26 Sep 2008
The message from the Chinese astronauts was released before the mission had set off Photo: AP
The Xinhua agency, which has sometimes been accused of carrying state propaganda, took down the story and blamed it on a "technical error".
The article described the Shenzhou VII space craft orbiting the Earth and outlined a conversation between the astronauts.
"First-level measurment arrangement," said one taikonaut - the Chinese word for astronaut.
The article later described the reaction to a successful outcome of the mission. "Ten minutes later, the ship disappears below the horizon. Warm clapping and excited cheering breaks the night sky, echoing across the silent Pacific Ocean."
China's most ambitious manned space mission blasted off intent on providing the country's first ever spacewalk.
The latest test of Project 921, as its race into space is known, is the climax of China's defining year as an emerging superpower, coming on top of its hosting of the Olympic Games.
But its Asian rivals Japan and India are also stepping up their space programmes, to say nothing of America's own revived plans to return to the moon.
Next month India will launch Chandrayaan-1, an unmanned space module designed to map the resources of the moon and undertake an intense search for water on its surface.
It will also execute environmental studies and measure radioactivity on the lunar surface, officials said, looking for traces of radon, uranium and thorium.
The Shenzhou VII, by contrast, China's third manned mission, will conduct few scientific experiments and is largely meant to build the technical know-how eventually to build a space station and even put a man on the moon.
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