China to launch Shenzhou VI October 12-15
Updated: 2005-10-11 07:58
China will launch its second manned space mission between October 12 and 15, an aerospace official said Tuesday.
The final launch time will depend on the weather conditions.
The Shenzhou VI aircraft will carry two astronauts into the sky from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, the Xinhua News Agency quoted the official with the headquarters for China's manned space mission as saying.
Shenzhou VI, a spaceship to carry two astronauts into orbit, sits atop of the LM-2F carrier rocket at the launching pad in Jiuquan satellite launch center in northwest China October 7, 2005. It is widely reported that China's second manned spaceship will be launched on October 13. [Nanfang Daily]
The craft is expected to land at a site in central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the official said, adding that the preparations for the launch are going smoothly.
AFP Monday quoted an anonymous official from the technical department of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center as saying that "It (launch time) is October 12 at 9 am."
A travel agent taking domestic tourists to witness the launch said he had been advised to be at the site early Wednesday morning.
The six astronauts shortlisted for the two-member mission have arrived at the launch pad in Inner Mongolia and Zhai Zhigang and Nie Haisheng are favorites to pilot the mission, reports said.
Wang Yongzhi, chief designer of China's manned spaceflight program, said the two astronauts on Shenzhou-6 will for the first time enter into the orbital module from the re-entry capsule and live and work several days under microgravity conditions, Xinhua said.
They will also for the first time carry out "scientific experiments with human participation in its real sense" in space, said Wang without deliberation.
Liu Yu, commander in chief of the rocket system, said the rocket for Shenzhou-6 has much improvement in reliability and safety compared with the one for Shenzhou-5.
"We have confidence in the quality of this rocket. We have the conditions and capability to fulfill this mission," said Liu.