by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 12, 2008
The launch of China's third manned space flight, the Shenzhou VII, with a crew of three "taikonauts" has been set for October, state media reported Thursday.
A short-list of six "taikonauts" or astronauts had already been selected for the flight and would be whittled down to a crew of three before the October launch, Xinhua news agency said, citing a spokesman for the mission.
"One member of the flight crew will undergo a space walk and undertake relevant scientific experiments," the spokesman said.
The names of the taikonauts were not given, but Yang Liwei, China's first man in space, had previously been reported to be a candidate for the flight.
No precise dates of the launch were given, but officials earlier had said it would take place in September or early October, following the August Beijing Olympic Games.
China successfully launched Yang into orbit in 2003, making it the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to put a man in space.
It sent two more astronauts into orbit in 2005 on a five-day mission.
It was not immediately clear how long the Shenzhou VII mission would last.
China's manned space programme operates on a shoestring budget compared with the the United States and Russia.
But the government seeks to maximise the value of each new step into space, hailing it as proof of the nation's emergence as a power in science and technology.
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com
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