Thursday, September 25, 2008

China Set to Launch Astronauts

MOSCOW, September 23 (RIA Novosti) - China's launch later this week of a manned spacecraft will be geared toward economic and scientific goals with no military implications, the Xinhua news agency quoted the launch center's director as saying on Tuesday.

The Shenzhou-7 spacecraft with three astronauts on board is set to lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province, in the northwest of China, on September 25.

"China's space program is not pursuing any military goals but serves the country's scientific and economic development," the agency quoted Cui Jijun, commander-in-chief of the ground operation team, as saying.

One of the astronauts will make a spacewalk during the mission.

China, which has recently unveiled comprehensive space exploration plans, is only one of three countries in the world capable of independently launching manned spaceflights, along with the United States and Russia.

The country plans to build its own orbital space station and create a space laboratory before 2020.

In 2003 and 2005 the Shenzhou-5 and Shenzhou-6 spacecraft carried three Chinese astronauts into space.

Source: Global

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