Shenzhou 10 set to launch

2013-06-10 16:56
The assembly of the Long March 2F rocket and the Shenzhou 10 planned manned spaceflight is seen at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan in northwest China's Gansu Province. (AP Photo)

The assembly of the Long March 2F rocket and the Shenzhou 10 planned manned spaceflight is seen at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan in northwest China's Gansu Province. (AP Photo)

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Beijing - China's Shenzhou 10 space mission is set to blast off this week with three astronauts on board, China Manned Space Engineering said on Monday.

During the 15-day mission - the second-longest Chinese space mission ever planned - docking manoeuvres were to be practised with the Tiangong-1 space module, which has been orbiting the Earth since September 2011.

Experiments and other manoeuvres are planned during the 12 days the crew is to man the module, whose name translates to Heavenly Palace.

One highlight was expected to be a long-distance education programme for Chinese students by the country's second-ever female astronaut and first-ever teacher in space, Wang Yaping, 33.

Her lesson was expected to focus on zero gravity, surface tension of fluids and weight, all topics that are hoped will spark an interest in the sciences, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Both automatic and manual docking procedures are to be tested. Astronauts would also test "new technologies for construction of the space station" as well as life support systems, the space agency said. They would have an improved waste-management system at their disposal as well as new food products, spokesperson Wu Ping said.

The launch from the Jiuquan space centre in Gansu province in north-western China was planned for 17:38  (09:38 GMT) on Tuesday.

"All control systems are ready," Wu said from the launch centre at the edge of the Gobi Desert. "The astronauts are in good and stable condition."

Fuelling of the Long March 2F rockets for the launch began on Monday.

The Shenzhou 10 mission's manoeuvres and experiments are important steps towards the construction of a space station planned by 2020.

Aside from her teaching duties, Wang is also an experienced aircraft pilot, who has worked to bring relief supplies to victims of a 2008 earthquake and was involved in operations to prevent rain during the Olympics in China that year.

The other two astronauts are Zhang Xiaoguang, 46, another first-time astronaut, and commander Nie Haisheng, 48, who piloted the Shenzhou 6 into space in 2005.

Read more on:    china  |  space

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