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Summer launch for nation's latest mission into space

(Shanghai Daily)

08:02, March 01, 2013

China's next manned space mission will launch sometime between June and August, carrying three astronauts to an experimental space module, a spokesman for the country's manned space program said yesterday.

Three Chinese astronauts will board the Shenzhou-10, which is expected to dock with orbiting lab module Tiangong-1.

Chinese astronauts carried out a manned docking with the module for the first time last June and lived and worked in it for about 10 days. They included the country's first female astronaut, Liu Yang.

The objectives of the new mission include further assessing the performance of the docking system, the module's capability in supporting life and work, and the conditions of the astronauts.

Research will be conducted to test the astronauts' abilities to adapt to the environment in the space module. Tests will also be made on spacecraft repairs and other key technologies necessary for the development of a space station.

Astronauts are also to give science lectures to teenage spectators back on Earth during the mission, the spokesman said.

Seeking to build its own space station by around 2020, China launched the Tiangong-1 module into space in September 2011. Tiangong-1 docked with the Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft in November 2011, and with the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft in June 2012.

Rendezvous and docking exercises between the two space modules are important steps in China's efforts to acquire the technological and logistical skills to run a full space lab that can house astronauts for long periods.

General assembly has been completed on the Shenzhou-10, and the spacecraft is being tested.

All tests have been completed on its carrier rocket, a modified model of the Long March-2F, while the astronauts are being trained.

This summer's mission will be China's fifth manned space mission since 2003 when astronaut Yang Liwei became the country's first man in orbit.

China is aiming to launch a space laboratory in 2016 and its first space station, made up of three capsules, should be in orbit by around 2020.

China also plans to build a space infrastructure composed of Earth-observation satellites, communications satellites, and navigation and positioning satellites. By 2020, China could have more than 200 spacecraft in orbit, about a fifth of the world's total.

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:ChenLidan、Wang Jinxue)

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