China to launch Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10 spacecraft in 2012

17:16, November 17, 2010      

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It is reported that China will launch the Shenzhou 9 and Shenzhou 10 spacecraft in 2012, according to the website of China Manned Space Engineering.

China has formally begun its manned space station program, aiming to complete construction of a "relatively large" manned space laboratory around 2020, said a spokesman for the national manned space program.

China hopes to develop and launch the first part of a space laboratory before 2016, focusing on breakthroughs in living conditions for astronauts and research applications, the spokesman said.

After the construction of the space station, China's three-step manned space program will be complete, adding this would enhance the country's technological progress, innovation, comprehensive power and the nation's prestige.

The three-step strategy involves first developing the Shenzhou spaceships and then technologies needed for docking and extra-vehicular activities, currently underway, and finally construction of the space station.

China plans to launch two unmanned space modules, Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8, in 2011, which are expected to accomplish the country's first space docking and were regarded as an essential step toward building a space station.

Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace, would eventually be transformed into a manned space laboratory after experimental dockings with Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, with the last two carrying two or three astronauts each.

By Zhang Qian, People's Daily Online

(Editor:张茜)

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