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Two Chinese men to circle space for 5 days
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-10-31 22:50

China's second manned space flight will be conducted by two astronauts over five days in 2005.

Yang Liwei, China's first space man gets out of the return capsule for Shenzhou V after spending 21 hours in space. [Xinhua]
"Shenzhou-VI will be blasted into space sometime next year," said Zuo Saichun, a spokesperson of the China Aerospace Science and Technology (CAST). "The spacecraft will make new breakthroughs in China's manned space technology."

The country's space authorities gave the first official statement and details of China's next space adventure before the 5th Air Show China opened in this coastal city in Guangzhou Province Sunday afternoon.

Unlike Shenzhou-V, which flew with a single astronaut for merely 21 and half hours a little more than a year ago, the next flight will see two astronauts fly in space for five days.

Their capsule is designed to be capable of orbiting for a whole week, the spokesperson said.

"For the first time, astronauts will enter and live in the orbital module of the spacecraft to do scientific experiments," said a statement from CAST, the major manufacturer of the manned spacecraft and its launch vehicle.

CAST did not specify what those experiments will be.

In Shenzhou-VI, the statement said, scientists have optimized the spacecraft's configuration to reduce its weight, and tried to improve the performance of on-board equipment.

They have also worked to guarantee the energy supply of the spacecraft and further improve its reliability and safety.

So far, scientists have worked out solutions to problems pertaining to environmental control and life support.

The launch pad of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province is pictured in this file photo. China's second manned space flight is also expected to be launched from here. [AFP]
Shenzhou-VI will be sent into orbit atop a Long March 2F rocket.

China's manned spacecraft contains three modules for propelling, orbital and re-entry.

Yang Liwei, the fighter pilot who made China's first trip into space aboard Shenzhou-V, used the re-entry module on October 16, 2003. The remaining orbital module descended six months after.

Yang's spacesuit, the huge parachute used for the safe landing of Shenzhou-V, together with the returned module and the special food he ate during his space flight are on display at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition Centre in Zhuhai.

Also on show is a model of the Chang'e-1 satellite, which is expected to be sent to orbit the moon in two years.

The lunar orbiter was named "Chang'e-I" as part of China's lunar exploration programme in reference to an ancient legend about a fairy Chang'e who flies to the moon.

The satellite, part of the three-stage programme, would be followed by the landing of an unmanned vehicle on the moon in the second stage by 2010 and collecting samples of lunar soil by 2020 in the final stage, according to Sun Laiyan, director of the China National Space Administration.

In addition to obtaining a three-dimensional image of the lunar surface, Chang'e-I will also analyze the content and distribution of useful elements on the moon surface, measure the density of lunar soil and explore space between the earth and the moon, said Sun.

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