The day when Chinese astronauts take to outer space is not far away, the key engineer in charge of China's manned space programme said Monday.
The engineer, who spoke anonymously, told Xinhua in an interview that he was confident that China's long-cherished bid of manned space flights would be realized in the future.
But he did not say when the manned space flights would be conducted.
Speculation has been rife in the past few days that such flights could occur in the second half of this year. But it is yet to be confirmed by any sources from the nation's manned space programme.
The engineer said that such an achievement -- sending manned spacecraft to outer space -- would lead to more breakthroughs, like launching an outer space laboratory and then setting up a space station with permanent staff members.
He said the successful voyage of the unmanned spacecraft Shenzhou IV bore out his convictions, since it provided a major boost to China's manned space programme.
The Shenzhou IV mission was widely seen as the final dress rehearsal before China joins the United States and Russia in becoming the third nation in the world to independently launch a human into space.
"The technology employed in the Shenzhen IV flight was in line with that used in a manned spacecraft trip,'' the engineer said.
Shenzhou IV included equipment and instruments that could monitor its airtight environment, to sustain life as well as machinery on board.
Experiments on micro-wave remote sensing monitoring on earth, environment surveillance in space, and life science were conducted during the flight, while rescue exercises were carried out at two zones on land and one at sea.
The engineer said that all these experiments have helped identify the basic technological data for the would-be manned space flight and checked life support systems for astronauts working and living in space.