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Full steam ahead for space program

(Global Times)

16:32, November 12, 2012

China's space program is set to get a major boost next year with planned missions that will send a three-member crew to its space lab in June and a robotic landing on the moon later in 2013, leading aerospace officials said Saturday.

Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of China's space program, told a press conference held at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China that the crew aboard the planned Shenzhou-10 mission is likely to include two men and a woman, who will dock with the Tiangong-1 space lab next year.

"They will stay in space for 15 days, operate both automated and manual space dockings with the orbiter Tiangong-1, conduct scientific experiments in the lab and give televised science lectures to audience on Earth," Niu said.

Shenzhou-10 will also transport supplies for Tiangong-1, further test the astronauts' ability to adapt to living in space, as well as functions of the lab module, according to Niu.

China is widely expected to upgrade its space lab to a full-fledged space station by 2020

"The success of the mission might enable China to construct a space station," said Nui.

China also plans to launch Chang'e-3, in its first mission to land on the moon, in the latter half year of 2013.

"The major tasks for Chang'e-3 are to carry out explorations and investigations of the moon, including performing tests on the moon soil to determine its composition and accomplish an investigation of the moon's general environment," said Ma Xingrui, general manager of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC), told the press conference.

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