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China to launch new manned spaceship

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-02-28 16:30

BEIJING - China's new spacecraft will be launched sometime between June and August, a spokesperson for the office of the country's space manned program said in a statement released Thursday.

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

The Tiangong-1 was sent into space in September 2011. It later docked with the Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft in November 2011, and with the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft in June 2012.

After years of testing, the new mission will mark the first formal application of the manned space transportation system, the statement said.

The objectives of the new mission include further assessing the performance of the docking system, the combination's capabilities in supporting life and work, and the abilities of astronauts on the job, according to plans.

Research on astronauts' abilities to adapt to the environment in the space module will also be conducted, in addition to tests on repairing orbiting spacecraft and other key technologies necessary for developing a space station.

China plans to build its own space station around 2020.

During the mission, astronauts will also give science lectures to teenage spectators back on Earth, the statement said.

The statement also offered information on ongoing preparations for the mission: general assembly has been completed on the Shenzhou-10, and the spacecraft is currently being tested; all tests have been completed on its carrier rocket, a modified model of the Long March-2F; astronauts are being trained according to plan; and the Tiangong-1 is in good condition.

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