China to launch manned spaceship in June

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BEIJING (IANS) –  China has plans to launch another manned spacecraft — Shenzhou-10 — in early June 2013, according to a leading space programme official.

Like in the Shenzhou-9 mission, the crew may include two men astronauts and a woman, who are scheduled to enter the Tiangong-1 space lab module, said Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of China’s manned space programme, on the sidelines of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

“They will stay in space for 15 days, operating both automated and manual space dockings with the target orbiter Tiangong-1, conducting scientific experiments in the lab module and delivering science lectures to spectators on the Earth,” he said, adding that the selection for the crew will begin in early 2013.

In the coming mission, Shenzhou-10 will offer ferrying services of personnel and supplies for Tiangong-1, further testing the astronauts’ abilities of working and living in space, as well as the functions of the lab module, he said.

“The success of this mission might enable China to construct a space lab and a space station,” he said.

China plans to build its own space station in around 2020. It had initiated the manned space programme in 1992 by sending Yang Liwei, the country’s first astronaut, into the orbit on Shenzhou-5 spacecraft in 2003.

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