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China prepares to launch craft for first manned space docking

posted 9 Jun 2012, 09:20 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 9 Jun 2012, 09:20 ]

China moves a rocket into position ahead of the launch of the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft that aims to carry out the country's first manned space docking mission with an orbiting space lab module, state media reports.

JIUQUAN, GANSU PROVINCE, CHINA (JUNE 9, 2012)  (CCTV) - 
China moved a rocket into position on Saturday (June 9) ahead of the launch of the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft that aims to carry out the country's first manned space docking mission with an orbiting space lab module, state media reported.
The Long March-2F rocket aims to launch in mid-June from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in a barren area of China's northwestern Gansu province, broadcaster CCTV said.


In coming days, scientists will conduct the final functional tests on the craft, rocket and ground systems, a spokesman told state media.


"The Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft launch programme has entered its final phrase," said deputy commander-in-chief of China's manned space program, Niu Hongguang.


Once launched, Shenzhou-9 plans to dock with Tiangong-1 -- or Heavenly Palace-1 -- space lab module, which came into docking orbit in early June and is orbiting normally, spokesperson Niu said.


"All the astronauts and three reserve crew members are scheduled to enter the launch site. At the launch site, all kinds of preparations will be completed before the launch. At present, the astronauts are in good spirits, and training work has met well the standards required in performing their duties."


Niu said earlier that a three-person crew on the Shenzhou-9 might include female astronauts, but the final selection would be decided later.


The space docking mission will be manually conducted by astronauts, the spokesman said, giving China another chance to test its docking technology as part of its ambitious space programme.

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