JIUQUAN, June 11 (Xinhua) -- President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday crew members of an upcoming manned space mission carry a "space dream" of the Chinese nation and represent the lofty aspirations of the Chinese people to explore space.
Xi made the remarks when attending a see-off ceremony for Chinese astronauts of the Shenzhou-10 space mission at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, where he is scheduled to watch the launch of the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft.
Xi, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), has just wrapped up his trip to Latin America and the United States and returned to China on Sunday.
The president came into the astronauts' apartment building on Tuesday afternoon to see off Nie Haisheng, Zhang Xiaoguang and Wang Yaping, who are due to start their journey to space at 5:38 p.m..
"On behalf of the CPC Central Committee, the State Council, the CMC, as well as people of all ethnic backgrounds across the country, I'm here to see you off," said Xi.
Shenzhou-10 will be China's fifth manned space mission. The president described the mission as both glorious and sacred. "You made Chinese people feel proud of ourselves," he said.
"You have trained and prepared yourselves carefully and thoroughly, so I am confident in your completing the mission successfully," he added.
"I wish you success and look forward to your triumphant return," Xi told the astronauts.
After their brief meeting with Xi and other Party and military officials, the astronauts, in white space suits, walked out of the apartment compound, called Wentiange, or "Ask-Heaven Pavilion," at the launch center.
They came to a square where they were greeted by a cheerful crowd and then reported to Zhang Youxia, commander-in-chief of the country's manned space program.
"Proceed!" Zhang said.
The astronauts then took a vehicle and left for the launch pad.
The Shenzhou-10 mission is the first application-orientated flight under China's space program since the country initiated the manned space program in 1992.
China successfully sent Yang Liwei, the country's first astronaut, into orbit on Shenzhou-5 in 2003 and another seven astronauts, including one female, into space in the next nine years.
The three astronauts in the upcoming mission are all CPC members. 48-year-old Major General Nie is commander of this mission, and responsible for the manual docking operation with the Tiangong-1 target orbiter.
Zhang Xiaoguang, 47, will assist the commander to accomplish the spacecraft's manual docking with Tiangong-1.
Wang, 33, is the second Chinese female astronaut after Liu Yang entered the record books with the Shenzhou-9 mission in June last year. Wang will be responsible for monitoring the conditions of the spacecraft, space experiments, operation of equipment and taking care of fellow crew members. She will also lead a lecture to be broadcast from space to students on Earth.
The Shenzhou-10 astronauts will orbit Earth for 15 days, the longest time in the country's manned space program.