China will launch its Shenzhou 10 spacecraft next year on a manned mission to further improve its space docking technology achieved by the Shenzhou 9 mission earlier this year, an official said Saturday.
"Shenzhou 10 will carry three astronauts, possibly including a female astronaut," Yang Liwei, deputy director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, was quoted by the Shanghai-based Labor Daily as saying Sunday.
"The selection of astronauts has not yet been completed. We are certain to choose astronauts for Shenzhou 10 from among those who have experience," Yang said at an exhibition of China's manned space program at Shanghai Jiao Tong University over the weekend.
Yang was China's first astronaut. He flew into space on Shenzhou 5 in October 2003.
Shenzhou 10 will aim to consolidate and optimize the difficult techniques used for automatic and manual docking of a space capsule with the Tiangong 1 space lab.
New technology on the updated space capsule will help correct some isolated errors that occurred during the same maneuver that was successfully completed by astronauts who flew on the earlier missions known as Shenzhou 9.
The Shenzhou 9 mission, whose crew included China's first woman to fly in space, Liu Yang, was launched on June 16, 2012.
The first module of the Tiangong space lab was sent into space on September 29, 2011.
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