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Chinese space lab ready to receive astronauts

Updated: 2012-06-15 16:26

JIUQUAN - Latest inspection shows the Tiangong-1 lab module is ready for China's first manned space docking mission, said Wu Ping, a spokeswoman for China's manned space program on Friday.

The docking equipment is working normally and the environmental monitoring is being performed properly. The space lab has sufficient propellants to support the docking, said Wu at a press conference at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The Tiangong-1 lab module is orbiting 343 km above the Earth. The control systems that stabilize the module and keep its solar panels pointing toward the sun, are functioning normally, she said.

The Tiangong-1 lab module was launched September 29, 2011. It has been in orbit for about 260 days. After completing the country's first auto space docking mission, the module went into long-term operation on November 17 last year.

It has since completed tasks such as orbit maintenance, equipment inspection and toxic gas detection, and carried out related scientific experiments, the spokeswoman said.

China is in final preparations to send three astronauts, two male and one female, into space in the Shenzhou IX manned spacecraft to fulfill the country's first manned space docking mission.

Fueling of the upgraded Long March-2F carrier rocket will start Friday afternoon. The launch platform and all control systems are ready. Astronauts are in good and stable condition and preparing for their space journey, according to China's manned space docking program headquarters.

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