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People's Daily Online>>Science

China to launch astronauts to orbiting craft this year

(Shanghai Daily)

12:43, February 18, 2012

China will send three astronauts into space earlier than expected - between June and August - to dock with and live inside an experimental orbiting module launched last year, a spokesman for China's manned space program said yesterday.

The Chinese astronauts, also known as taikonauts, will fly aboard the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and will manually dock with the Tiangong-1, a module of the country's planned space station, and conduct scientific experiments, the spokesman said.

"The astronauts may stay in space for more than 10 days, which will be unprecedented in the history of China's space exploration," Li Wei, deputy designer for spacecraft system with the China Aerospace and Technology Corporation, said earlier.

Previous plans had called for sending the astronauts into the 8.5-ton Tiangong-1, or "Heavenly Palace," during the Shenzhou-10 mission next year after another round of unmanned docking experiments with the Shenzhou-9.

All the systems on Tiangong-1 orbiting the Earth are in perfect condition and ready to receive the astronauts, according to Zhou Jianliang, deputy chief engineer of the China Manned Space Engineering Office.

The selected astronauts are receiving months of training, including spending about two weeks in the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, to get familiar with the atmosphere and operational system, said Li.

Fourteen candidates have been picked from among fighter pilots as the first batch of candidates while the second batch has also been selected, he said. Included are two female astronauts.

The astronauts must be 25 to 35 years old, weigh 55 to 70 kilograms and be 1.60 to 1.72 meters tall, Wu Bin, director of the astronaut training office, said earlier.

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Leave your comment2 comments

  1. Name

aziz at 2012-02-18195.191.66.*
I am very sorry that I am too old and never can be a astronaut. But nevermind I still feel very excited that my young brothers are going to do such imprtant and facinating things.
Robert USA at 2012-02-1824.18.24.*
Good Luck China! I hope everything will be done as you wish. I pray Buddha for all of you. I sincerely wish the program a great sucess. Have a good one China.

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