As late as Tuesday evening, for example, Chinese space officials were vague about the launching time, giving a window of Wednesday to Saturday rather than a specific takeoff time.
Similarly, the names of the astronauts were not released until shortly before the launching. The two men, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng, former fighter pilots, were said to have been chosen from among three teams of two astronauts, all of whom were on standby for possible selection for the launching.
同样,宇航员的名字不直到发射之前不久被发布.二个男人,Fei Junlong和Nie Haisheng,更前战士飞行员从三队二个宇航员中据说被选择,全部的谁在继续为备用为发射可能选择.
In his official biography, Mr. Fei, 40, who was recruited for the space program when he was still in high school, is described as one of China's top test pilots. He is said to have averted disaster during a trial flight in 1992, landing his plane safely as it ran out of fuel.
The 41-year-old co-pilot, Mr. Nie, is described as a cowboy from southern China and the sixth child of a family of eight children. Mr. Nie has also been praised for having averted disaster, parachuting out of a plane that lost control and entered a steep dive.
Commentators on state television maintained a lively discussion throughout the launching, providing technical details about the space program from the nature of the vessel to the limitations of the Long March rockets used for the launching. They also spoke of China's future goals in space, starting with larger piloted orbital missions, piloted lunar missions and the construction of a space station.
The commentators also repeatedly sought to draw a contrast with the United States, with one of them speculating that "America's strategy is to lure China into a space race, and to drain China's resources so it will collapse, without a war."
"This is not a competition," one of the commentators answered. "There is great commercial potential on the moon."
In his brief remarks, President Hu emphasized the same point.
"China's space mission is solely based on peaceful purposes," he said. "We are devoted to the peaceful use of space and are ready to extend out cooperation to other countries."