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Chief designer: Shenzhou VI likely to carry 2 astronauts
( 2003-11-13 15:20) (Xinhhua)

When China launches its Shenzhou VI spaceship, it will most likely carry two astronauts and stay in space for five to seven days, according to Wang Yongzhi, the chief designer of the country's manned spacecraft.

In an interview with local media, Wang spoke highly of the team of researchers based in Shanghai, who designed Shenzhou V's main engine.

Asked whether Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut who blasted into space a month ago from Jiuquan, Gansu Province, will be picked again for the second mission, Wang said the final decision will be made only 16 hours before the launch, so "it is still too early to say."

Yang, on his first trip to Shanghai, said he was touched by the enthusiasm of the local people. He said he was also impressed by the city's cosmopolitan and high-tech outlook.

Reminded by local journalists of his non-stop schedule since he returned to earth - touring around the country and giving speeches - Yang said that it was part of his responsibility to spread the message of encouragement to his compatriots.

Meanwhile, lured by the visiting space program team, some 130,000 people have thronged the round-the-clock, two-day space exhibition at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum since the free show opened on Tuesday.

Among them, more than 70,000 visited between 6 pm and 6 am despite the biting cold, curious to see "what the country's first manned spaceship looked like."

"It's incredible!" Li Jun, an exhibition official, told Shanghai Daily yesterday. "We never expected such a huge number of visitors, especially since they queued up in these freezing conditions."

Chen Dafu, 58, who traveled all the way from suburban Qingpu District, said: "It's been worth it. The space exhibition was an eye-opener for me. As a Chinese, I was so happy when Yang returned to Earth safely."

Also yesterday, Yang and his peers gave emotional speeches at the Shanghai Exhibition Center to more than 2,000 senior government officials and residents from various fields.

They also took a cruise along the Huangpu River last night.

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