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China Plans Third Manned Space Flight To Fly In September 2008

Although no major technological breakthroughs have been made with China's manned space program, the nation has sought to use the flights as a vehicle to better educate its 1.3 billion citizens to modern science.
by Staff Writers
Beijing, April 23 (AFP) Apr 23, 2006
China's third manned space flight will take place in September 2008 immediately aftter the Beijing Olympic Games, with astronauts attempting a space walk, state press reported Sunday.

"The launch of the Shenzhou VII has been set for after the Beijing Olympics in September 2008 and will carry three astronauts," said Song Zhengyu, a leading official at the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.

"The selection process for three astronauts is going on now as they train," he was quoted as saying by the Beijing News.

The flight will be launched from China's Jiuquan launch center in the deserts of northwest China's Inner Mongolia, Song said.

China became the third nation to place a man in space after the former Soviet Union and the United States, when Yang Liwei piloted the Shenzhou V on a short mission in October 2003.

Two years later, the Shenzhou VI carried two astronauts into space on a five-day mission.

Although no major technological breakthroughs have been made with China's manned space program, the nation has sought to use the flights as a vehicle to better educate its 1.3 billion citizens to modern science.

Chinese space officials have previously said that following the Shenzhou VII space walk, subsequent space flights would include space dockings between unmanned and manned vehicles.

The goal of the manned Shenzhou series is to eventually construct a 20-ton space station, Song said.

China has already announced that it is developing lunar satellites to probe the moon with one expected to fly by 2007 and another to land on the moon by 2012.

By 2017, China hopes to land an unmanned lunar probe on the moon and have it collect samples and return to earth.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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