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China's Shenzhou VII spacecraft under assembly
Latest Updated by 2006-11-03 16:16:27
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China's third manned spacecraft is under assembly, a chief Shenzhou spacecraft consultant said Thursday in Zhuhai.

"All the equipment of the separate systems has been delivered to China's space aviation center for assembly," Qi Faren, chief designer of China's first five Shenzhou spaceships, and chief consultant for Shenzhou VI and VII, said at a major air show here in Guangdong province.

Qi said three astronauts will man Shenzhou VII and they are expected to carry out spacewalks during the third manned space flight planned for 2008.

Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut in space, said he and the astronauts on China's second manned spacecraft, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng, were all being trained for Shenzhou VII, and would possibly be chosen for the third mission.

Yang said that since astronauts would carry out spacewalks for the first time, the mission required even higher physical, technical and psychological standards.

Astronauts will and perform work outside the capsule such as installing equipment and "tightening screws", Yang said.

Qi also said the center was drawing up plans for other manned missions.

"Shenzhou VIII, Shenzhou IX and Shenzhou X are all being planned and the intervals between each launch will become shorter, " Qi said.

China's first manned space flight took place in 2003, making it the third nation to conduct independent manned space flight.

Last year, the second manned spaceship, Shenzhou VI, was launched and completed a five-day flight with two astronauts carrying out space-based experiments.

China has no plans yet to train women astronauts, said Yang, who is also deputy director at China Astronaut Research and Training Center.

"China's space program has no missions for women astronauts yet, so we haven't started selecting women astronauts," he said.

He said the center would start selecting women astronauts as China's manned spacecraft technology advances and more space projects were launched.

Editor: Yan

By: Source: China View website
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