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Second manned spacecraft successfully takes off
Updated: 2005-10-12 08:58

China's piecemeal but ambitious space program took another giant step today, as two Chinese taikonauts blasted into orbit on a state-of the-art Long March rocket on the country's second manned space mission ever.

Second manned spacecraft successfully takes off
China's second manned spacecraft Shenzhou VI blasts off into the sky Wednesday morning October 12, 2005. [Xinhua]

The Shenzhou VI manned spacecraft blasted off with a loud launch noise for a multi-day orbital stay from its satellite launch center in Jiuquan in northwest China.

China's state-owned Central Television Station is carrying out a live coverage of the spacecraft flight, with images of the two taikonauts clearly shown to tens of millions of Chinese viewers. 

Shenzhou VI was lifted into the space by a Long March carrier rocket at 9:00 am Beijing Time. It entered its orbit 21 minutes later.

Fei Junlong, 40, and Nie Haisheng, 41, will make a great deal of experiments during their space journey.

"I feel good," Fei said minutes after blast-off.

"We have the confidence and ability to fulfil this glorious task. Our only wish is to make the mission a complete success," Fei said before boarding the craft. "Life in space is full of mysteries," Nie added. 

Second manned spacecraft successfully takes off
Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng lie in the Shenzhou VI capsule before the launch Wednesday October 12, 2005. China plans to launch its second manned space mission Wednesday morning. [China News Service]

"There is nothing to worry about," the two was quoted as saying before the launch as a light snow fell. "We will accomplish the mission resolutely. See you in Beijing."

Premier Wen Jiabao hailed the successful launch, reiterating China's policy for peaceful use of space.

Wen said that China develops space technology purely for peaceful purposes and China is willing to cooperate with other nations in the development of space science and technology.

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