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Countdown to second manned space launch
(China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-27 06:06

The Chinese people could have a second reason to cheer next month - the first is the National Day holiday and the second, the likely launch of the nation's second manned space mission.

Technicians make final examinations and tests of China's second manned spaceship Shenzhou VI at Jiuquan satellite launch center in Gansu Province.  
While the dates for the public holiday are set, the timing of the launch of the Shenzhou VI spacecraft is not so clear; media reports yesterday had it that it would be a five-day space trip around mid-October with two astronauts on board.

The China News Service reported the Shenzhou VI - which looks similar to the Shenzhou V launched in 2003 - had been transferred to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Gansu Province, Northwest China, indicating that the blast-off is approaching.

The China Manned Space Programme Office in Beijing, however, declined to confirm the reports while at the same time suggesting a launch was imminent.

"We will release pertinent information after the National Day holiday - days before the launch (of Shenzhou VI)," an official, who did not want to be identified and refused to reveal more, told China Daily.

China's first astronaut Yang Liwei said about two weeks ago in Nanjing that the Shenzhou VI was to be launched in mid-October. He reportedly said that he would not be part of the second mission.

The launch date has not been announced partly because its "launch window" is determined by a host of factors, including weather conditions, according to some insiders.
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