China eyes space walk in 2007
Updated: 2005-10-17 16:00
China hopes to conduct a space walk in 2007 and might recruit women into its
next group of astronaut candidates, a senior space program official said Monday.
The Shenzhou 6 flight that ended early Monday completed the first stage of
China's manned space development plan, which focused on development of space
vehicles, said Tang Xianming, director of the China Space Engineering Office.
The next stage focuses on developing ways for astronauts to walk in space and
the ability to rendezvous and dock with other spacecraft, Tang said at a news
"Our estimate is that around 2007 we will be able to achieve extravehicular
activity by our astronauts and they will walk in space," he said.
Tang said he also expected to see female Chinese astronauts "in the
"At present, we do not have women participants among our astronaut
candidates," he said. "But according to our development program and plans for
manned space engineering, for the next round of selections, we might consider
having some female astronauts."
Back on the ground, astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng were
"in good health" and "feeling good" after the Shenzhou 6 capsule touched down
at 4:32 a.m. in the Inner Mongolia region, Xinhua News Agency said. It said
retrieval crews had reached the landing site and the two men were undergoing a
Fei and Nie blasted off Wednesday on China's second manned space mission. It
came almost exactly two years after China's first manned space flight made this
only the third country able to send a human into orbit on its own, after Russia
and the United States.
State television showed scores of technicians monitoring the landing at
computer screens at a Beijing control center. They didn't show any reaction when
an announcer said the capsule had landed but broke into cheers after word came
that the astronauts were safe.
Chinese leaders including
Wu Bangguo, were shown on television watching the landing from the control
Late Sunday, Xinhua said the mission had "accomplished the planned
experiments and accumulated valuable technical data" for China's manned space
"We feel good, our work is going smoothly and our life is happy," Fei was
quoted as saying Sunday evening before the craft began its re-entry maneuvers.
"We will do our utmost to fulfill the mission."
"We're grateful for the deep love and concern by all
Chinese people, the Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan compatriots," Nie said.