- "Look to the west... You see that dot in the distance? That is the Chinese Station. You’re going to take the Soyuz and cruise over there. The Chinese lifeboat is a Shenzhou."
- ―Matt Kowalski reveals the Shenhzou to Ryan Stone.
It was the capsule that Dr. Ryan Stone used to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.
Role in GravityEdit
Dr. Ryan Stone was first told about the Shenzhou by Matt Kowalski who told her that the Soyuz Capsule's parachute was deployed, rendering it useless for re-entry. However, it was perfect for a "Sunday drive" to the Tiangong Station, roughly 100 miles away which was abandoned by it's crew in one of the two Shenzhou Capsules, leaving one behind. Later on in the film, having attempted suicide because she thought that she was stranded in the Soyuz to slowly succumb to hypercapnia, Stone reactivated the air flow to the cabin of the Soyuz Capsule and as the oxygen levels rose, she began to recover from hypoxia, remembering what her subconscious was trying to tell her by manifesting Matt Kowalski that the re-entry rockets ran on a separate fuel tank and she could still make it to the Tiangong Station which had the remaining Shenzhou. With renewed determination, she fired the thrusters and shot off toward the Chinese station on momentum.
As the Soyuz Capsule flew forward, Ryan saw that the station was greatly damaged by the debris and was sinking into the atmosphere. Stone also noticed that she would miss the station by several meters. Retrieving the fire extinguisher that she used to fight the fire on the ISS, she blasted the airlock open with explosive decompression and was thrown out into space. Using the fire extinguisher to propel herself toward the Chinese space station, she slammed into it and managed to hang on as Tiangong dropped faster through the Earth's atmosphere and began a rapid descent. The debris field reappeared in the distance, racing toward her as she began her climb to the airlock while the station began to break apart.
The debris strike slammed into the Chinese space station, shredding it and rapidly forcing the station out of it's orbit toward re-entry. Ryan climbed into the Chinese Shenzhou Capsule and struggled to make sense of the symbols – pressing random buttons to see if she could initialize the re-entry protocol. Luckily, because the Shenzhou was pretty much like the Chinese Soyuz, she was able to piece together what she needed to allow the Shenzhou to break apart from the surrounding Tiangong Station as what was left of it hurled through the Earth's upper atmosphere at over 25,000 feet per second. The capsule exploded forward, taking the lead of the debris field as the station fell apart with each passing second – erupting into lines of fire across the sky. Ryan managed to press a button that seemed familiar from the Soyuz and it undocked the Shenzhou from it's other components. Ryan closed her eyes and put the helmet to her spacesuit on. Tiangong continued breaking apart when the gravity took hold and dragged it down to Earth. Luckily, the parachute was activated, slowing the capsule and allowing it to land gently in a lake of water.
The capsule hit the water and floated for a moment – radio cracking to life as Houston was finally able to make contact, promising a rescue. However, an electrical fire broke out, forcing Stone to escape the Shenzhou immediately. She ejected the hatch and the Shenzhou rapidly filled with water and struggled to breathe. For a moment, it seemed like she would drown and the weight of the capsule and parachute quickly dragged it to the bottom.
- There is an actual Shenzhou craft.
- Shenzhou has been translated to "heavenly craft" and "divine vessel" in English. This is referenced when Kowalski refers to it as the "Chinese lifeboat" and in a way it is heavenly because it returns Stone to mother Earth.
- According to the script, the recording in the Shenzhou reads: 龉 侣 鲻 鼢 汉, 侣蔓贩 浇! 汉 鼢侣 鲻龉! 龉, 侣蔓贩 浇!
- The text in the Shenzhou is Mandarin Chinese according to the script.