An article describing China's long-awaited space mission was launched Thursday hours before astronauts even left the launch pad.
The country's official news agency Xinhua posted an article on its Web site Thursday written as if the three astronauts had already been launched into space.
The Shenzhou 7 mission, which will feature China's first-ever spacewalk, is set to launch Thursday from Jiuquan in northwestern China between 9:07 p.m. and 10:27 p.m. (1307 GMT and 1427 GMT).
The Xinhua article is dated Sept. 27 - two days from now - and comes complete with an entire dialogue between the astronauts.
The piece titled "Sleepless Night on the Pacific, Sidelights on the Observation and Control of the 30th Lap of Shenzhou 7 Spaceship," which was available most of the day, has now been removed from the Xinhua Web site.
A staffer from the Xinhuanet.com Web site who answered the phone Thursday said the posting of the article was a "technical error" by a technician. The staffer refused to give his name as is common among Chinese officials.
The piece vividly described the rocket in flight, complete with a sharply detailed dialogue between the three astronauts.
Excerpts are below:
"First-level measurement arrangement!"
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."
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