The Shenzhou program : 神 舟 is a manned spaceflight initiative by China. The program put the first Chinese citizen, Yang Liwei, into orbit on 15 October 2003.
Development began in 1992, under the name of Project 921-1. The Chinese National Manned Space Program was given the designation Project 921 with Project 921-1 as its first significant goal. The plan called for a manned launch in October 1999, prior to the new millennium.
The first four unmanned test flights happened in 1999, 2001, and 2002. These were followed by 2 manned missions. The second one was launched on 12 October 2005. The Shenzhou missions were launched on the Long March 2F from the Jiuguan Satellite Launch Center. The command center of the mission is the Beijing Aerospace Command and Control Center. The China Manned Space Engineering Office provides engineering and administrative support for the manned Shenzhou missions.
The name can be variously translated as "Divine Ark", "Divine Vessel", or the like, but it is also a reference to a literary named for China with the same pronunciation (神州 Shénzhōu literally "Divine Land”).