Backgrounder: China's manned space program
China's manned space program will be carried out in three stages, culminating in the establishment of a permanent space laboratory, according to China's aerospace development plan.
China has completed the first stage of the program, sending unmanned spacecraft and a manned spacecraft into near-earth orbit, conducting observations of the earth and scientific experiments in space, and bringing the astronaut safely back to the earth.
China blast off its first manned spacecraft, Shenzhou-5, which carried Yang Liwei, into orbit on Oct. 15, 2003, and safely brought him back the following day.
In the second stage, China plans to have more breakthroughs in manned space mission, such as manned space flight carrying more than one person and lasting more than one day, space walking of astronauts, and docking between capsule and space module. On this basis, China will put in orbit a space laboratory attended to by humans for short periods and establish a fully-equipped space engineering system.
The launch of Shenzhou-6, scheduled for Wednesday, marks the beginning of the second stage.
In the third stage, China will build a permanent space laboratory and a space engineering system. Astronauts and scientists will travel between the earth and the space station to conduct scientific experiments of larger scale.
After that, Chinese astronauts and scientists will conduct experiments in space regularly, laying a solid foundation for the peaceful utilization of space and exploitation of space resources, said a Chinese aerospace official.
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