Russia invites China's first spaceman to moon flight
The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) on Friday invited China's first spaceman, Yang Liwei, to make a space flight to the moon aboard the promising Russian Kliper shuttle, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.
The invitation was offered by the head of Roskosmos, Anatoly Perminov, at a meeting in the day with the Chinese taikonaut.
Taikonaut was coined to refer to Chinese astronauts, who are called cosmonauts in Russia.
Perminov asked Yang: "Would you like to fly in space aboard Kliper, say, to the moon and back?"
"Sure, as a professional taikonaut," Yang was quoted as replying.
According to the Roskosmos chief, the first flight of the manned Kliper shuttle is scheduled for 2012.
"Complete flight qualification of the shuttle" will be made within the next three years. Then, it will be the main transportation vehicle for cosmonauts," he said.
One of the crew on board Kliper would be a pilot responsible for docking and another for landing of the spaceship. The four others would be passengers, he said.
When asked which of the two pilots he would like to be, Yang answered: "I'd like to try flying both as the left and the right pilot."
During the meeting, Yang was also awarded a "Gagarin medal", which is special for personages contributing to international friendship.
Yang arrived in Moscow on Monday for a visit at the invitation of the Roskosmos. He has visited the Cosmonauts' Training Center, the Energia Space Corporation, the Mission Control Center and the International aerospace show MAKS-2005, which was opened a few days ago in Zhukovsky outside Moscow.
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