JIUQUAN, Gansu Province: China will launch its third manned spacecraft, Shenzhou VII, between Sept 25 and 30, a mission spokesman has said.
One of the three astronauts on the mission will become the first Chinese to walk in space, he said on Saturday. The main mission of the earlier two-member Shenzhou VI was to be in space for more than four days.
The propellant was to have been installed in the spacecraft by later yesterday, the spokesman said. After that the spaceship will be attached to the rocket and transferred to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province.
The astronauts have conducted all the drills and their control over the system is excellent, he said. All the major systems for the launch are now in the final stages of preparation.
The main tests for the spacecraft, the Long-March II-F rocket, astronauts' suits for the space walk and an accompanying satellite are complete.
And the ground control system, including the launch and landing sites, and the communication network for observation and control, is fully ready.
Zhao Changxi, a senior scientist with the project, said cameras would be installed both inside and outside the spaceship to enable live broadcast of the space walk.
Earlier reports said a six-astronaut crew were chosen for the mission, three of who would fly with the spacecraft and the other three would be standbys.
China launched a new space-tracking ship in April to serve Shenzhou VII's space-walk mission. It follows Yuanwang-5, launched a year ago, and the two vessels will play a key role in the Shenzhou VII mission.
(China Daily 09/08/2008 page1)