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China counting down to next men in space
Updated: 2005-07-05 07:14

China has begun training six pilots for spaceflight, two of whom will enter orbit on September's Shenzhou VI mission, domestic media said on Monday, in the next step in the country's lofty space ambitions.

A spacesuit sits on display at a space exhibition in Urumqi, capital of Northwest China's Uyguir Autonomous Region on April 24, 2005. [newsphoto]
The astronaut candidates were training in teams and the pair that showed the best teamwork would be the next Chinese in space, Huang Chunping, the man who pushed the launch button for China's first manned spaceflight in 2003, was quoted as saying by the Web site Chinanews.com.

"China should accelerate its space development, such as by launching manned spaceflights every year," Huang said.

China became the third nation to successfully send a man into space in October 2003, when astronaut Yang Liwei orbited the Earth 14 times on the Shenzhou V spacecraft.

The six candidates for Shenzhou VI were chosen from a pool of 14 since December.

China would be ready to set up its own orbiting space station in 2010, Huang was quoted as telling Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po newspaper.

The country also aims to have an astronaut perform a spacewalk during the planned Shenzhou VII mission and eventually put men on the moon.

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