Great Wall invisible from space: Chinese astronaut

China's first astronaut demolished one of his country's most cherished boasts by saying the Great Wall of China is not visible from space.

China's first astronaut has demolished one of his country's most cherished boasts by saying the Great Wall of China is not visible from space.

A newspaper in Beijing reported on Friday that Yang Liwei orbited the earth for almost a full day last year and could not see any part of the 6,350-kilometre wall, parts of which are 2,200 years old.

Now education officials have ordered school textbooks rewritten to remove the decades-old claim that the wall is the only man-made structure that an orbiting astronaut can view with the naked eye.

One party official calls the statement "a disadvantage to the real knowledge acquired by our elementary school students."

Despite its length, the wall is only a few metres wide, so scientists outside China have said that the claim was implausible. However, it has been repeated in books, magazines, and even on public broadcasters' websites.

"Having this falsehood printed in our elementary school textbooks is probably the main cause of the misconception being so widely spread," the Beijing Times said.