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Home >> Sci-Edu
UPDATED: 08:44, July 15, 2005
China to launch manned spacecraft in October
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China may launch its next manned space mission within three months, an aerospace official revealed Thursday.

The country is also planning to put at least two more meteorological satellites into orbit before 2008 to provide better weather forecasting for the Olympics in Beijing, utility officials said.

"The manned spacecraft (Shenzhou VI) will ... preferably be launched in early October," Sun Weigang, director of the Space Department of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, told China Daily.

It was the latest update of the launch timetable for the country's second manned space flight, following Shenzhou V in October 2003.

Although Sun did not provide details about the new mission, space officials earlier said China has been preparing for the second manned venture into outer space since the first mission, piloted by Yang Liwei, almost two years ago.

Sun Laiyan, chief of the China National Space Administration, earlier told China Daily that Shenzhou VI will carry two men into orbit for five or six days.

The duo will be chosen from among 14 air force fighter pilots.

The trainees have stepped up training in weightless conditions and learnt to repair faults and deal with other emergencies in space, sources close to the country's space programme said.

Sun Weigang said China would also launch two recoverable scientific and experimental satellites by the end of the year. The two satellites will be recovered within three weeks of their launching, he said.

Sun's remarks were made on the sidelines of a ceremony Thursday in Beijing marking the handover of a meteorological satellite from its maker - China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp - to its user, the China Meteorological Administration.

The meteorological satellite, FY-2C, named after the initial letters of the Chinese words for "wind" and "cloud", cost 2.4 billion yuan (US$289 million) to develop and build. A Long March rocket blasted it into space last October.

In-orbit tests indicated the geo-stationary satellite, with an expected lifetime of three years, had met all the designed requirements.

Yang Jun, director of the National Satellite Meteorological Centre, said FY-2C, which watches the Earth from a height of 36,000 kilometres, will substantially improve the country's ability to monitor weather changes and its attempts to mitigate natural disasters.

Qin Dahe, director of the China Meteorological Administration, said every country covered by the FY-2C satellite could receive and use its meteorological data.

To serve the 29th Olympiad in Beijing, China is planning to send at least two further weather satellites into space before 2008, Yang said.

"Satellites in the pipeline include a FY-2D geo-stationary satellite, to be launched in 2006, and a FY-3A polar orbiting meteorological satellite that will hopefully be blasted into space in 2007," he said.

Source: China Daily

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