·Shenzhou Mission
·Space Policy
·World Programs
Development of Shenzhou VII spacecraft going smoothly

2006-10-26 16:13

A senior Chinese space program official said in Beijing on October 25 that development of the Shenzhou VII manned spacecraft is proceeding smoothly, but declined to give a timetable for its launch.

"The Shenzhou VII project is going smoothly. The next step of the manned spaceflight program involves allowing the taikonaut to walk out of the spacecraft and dock the spacecraft with another target object," said Sun Laiyan, head of China National Space Administration, in an interview at www.gov.cn, a Chinese central government website that covers the application of military technology for civilian use.

He said the taikonaut will walk out of the spacecraft wearing a space suit. The technology is complex and risks are high.

"We do have a timetable for the manned spaceflight program, but our foremost concern is safety and reliability," said Sun, who is also deputy head of the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense.

"We will announce the timetable on this website when we believe the time is ripe and conditions are mature," he said.

He did not rule out the possibility of sending female taikonauts, female scientists, engineers and even philosophers into space in the future.

"A space flight will help philosophers develop new philosophic views. That's good for human society," said Sun.

China successfully launched its Shenzhou VI spacecraft carrying two taikonauts into space on October 12, 2005. It returned to earth safely after 115 hours and 32 minutes of flight.

Previous news reports predicted the Shenzhou VII would be launched around 2007 and space docking would take place between 2009 and 2012.


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