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China Plans To Launch Two Astronauts Next Year

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Beijing - Jun 04, 2004
China will send at least two astronauts into outer space in the fall next year, and they will stay there for at least one week, reported Thursday's The Beijing News, citing Yang Jiachi, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Yang made the remarks at an ongoing conference of academicians organized jointly by the CAS and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) from June 2 to 6 in Beijing.

The astronauts will move between the re-entry module and orbital module, two parts of the spaceship, when they are in outer space, according to Yang, who described it as the "biggest" breakthrough for this manned space mission.

"Possibly, Yang Liwei may not be chosen for this mission," Yang said.

China followed in the footsteps of the Soviet Union and the United States to achieve manned space flight last October, when astronaut Yang Liwei orbited the earth 14 times.

However, the detailed plan, such as exactly how many astronauts will be sent into space and how long they will stay there, is yet to be decided and China is still conducting relevant experiments, noted Yang.

China has actually found out a technical solution for sending a few astronauts into space at one time, Yang said. The key issue isabout the safety and reliability of relevant equipment, which could not ensure a 100 percent safe mission so far.

"Many problems cannot be easily checked out after the spaceshipis launched into space," Yang acknowledged. "What's more, what we are sending are real human beings, so we must be most careful."

Yang said scientists always act as a "psychological tutor" in participating in the selection of spacemen, like encouraging them to be fully confident.

A Long March II F carrier rocket will still be used to launch the space flight and the design of the Shenzhou VI will basically remain the same as that of the Shenzhou V. And the astronauts will step into the orbital module and conduct various types of experiments there, according to Yang.

Yang, 85, was one of the initiators of China's "863 High-Tech Program" and also academician of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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