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Shenzhou VI set to take off this morning
Updated: 2005-10-11 15:59

China's second manned spacecraft is to be launched between 8:00am and 9:00am Wednesday morning Beijing time from a major space center in its northwestern Gansu Province, after a crucial ruling Communist Party meeting concludes in Beijing on Tuesday.

Shenzhou VI set to take off this morning
Zhai Zhigang (left) and Nie Haisheng, candidates for China's second manned spacecraft Shenzhou VI said to be launched Wednesday morning from Jiuquan satellite lanuch center in northwest China, sing at an evening party celebrating the success of Shenzhou V manned space mission in this October 22, 2003 file photo. Zhai and Nie are the favourte of the three pairs of astronauts for Shenzhou VI. [Sina/China Foto Press]

The Shenzhou VI will carry two astronauts into the orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Xinhua news agency said.

The craft is expected to land at a site in central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Two astronauts from a pool of six candidates will be chosen by a panel of experts late Tuesday or early Wednesday to aboard the spaceship and stay in out space for a planned 6 days.

Zhai Zhigang and Nie Haisheng are favorites to pilot the mission, according to reports of local media.

Final preparations for the launch are going smoothly, the Xinhua news agency said.

A top-ranking state leader is expected to be on the scene to see the two astronauts off into the sky at the launch site. Colonel Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut who orbited Earth 14 times on the Shenzhou V craft in October 2003, has already arrived at Jiuquan city. Chinese President Hu Jintao flew to Jiuquan in 2003 to see Yang off.

China’s state-owned Central Television Station will telecast the launch live.

Wang Yongzhi, chief designer of China's manned space flight program, said the two astronauts on Shenzhou-VI will for the first time enter into the orbital module from the re-entry capsule and live and work several days under micro-gravity conditions.

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