More photos of the story
Undated photo shows China's
second manned spacecraft Shenzhou-6 joined by the Long March CZ-2F rocket
at the launch tower of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Shenzhou-6
spacecraft will be launched to the outer space by the Long March CZ-2F
rocket. (Photo: Xinhua)
Special Report: 2nd manned space mission
Latest news: Fei, Nie to pilot Shenzhou-6
JIUQUAN, Oct. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- China will launch its
second manned spacecraft Shenzhou-6 Wednesday morning after the successful
21-hour first manned space mission two years ago, the headquarters of China's
manned space program said here Tuesday.
Related: Backgrounder: China's manned
The new spacecraft, this time with two astronauts aboard, will be blast
off in space from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu
Province, the headquarters said earlier Tuesday.
Wang Yongzhi, chief designer of China's manned space
flight program, said the two astronauts on Shenzhou-6 will for the first time
enter the orbital module from the re-entry capsule and "live and work several
days" under microgravity conditions.
"They will also for the first time carry out
scientific experiments in space with human participation in a real sense," said
Wang in an exclusive interview with Xinhua.
The Long March rocket propelled China's first manned
spacecraft Shenzhou-5 into orbit in October 2003. Astronaut Yang Liwei thus
became the first Chinese national to be sent into space.
Liu Yu, commander in chief of the rocket system, said
the rocket for Shenzhou-6 has been much improved in reliability and safety
compared with the one for Shenzhou-5.
"We have confidence in the quality of this rocket. We
have the conditions and capability to fulfill this mission," said Liu.
"Preparations for the launch are going on well," he
The two astronauts, whose names are still kept
secret, will also enjoy a more comfortable journey than their predecessor Yang
Liwei, since massive technological improvements have been made to the carrier
Long March II F and the spaceship.
Sufficient or even surplus food, water and sleeping
bags are prepared in the orbital module. And a food heater in the spaceshipmeans
that astronauts can have hot meals, while astronaut Yang could only eat cold
food. An excrement collecting device will alsobe used for the first time, Yang
said in an interview with Xinhua at the launch center.
The Shenzhou-6 spacecraft will be sent into an oval
orbit with a bank angle of 42.4 degrees, a perigee altitude of 200 km and an
apogee altitude of 347 km, and after orbital readjustment, the spacecraft will
move into a round orbit.
At the end of the scheduled space mission, the
spacecraft will return to the main landing field in the central areas of Inner
Mongolia Autonomous Region, an official with the Jiuquan headquarters said.
The astronauts for the scheduled space mission have
been decided, after strict training, selection and assessment, and they have
completed comprehensive ground drills, the official said.
Xinhua reporters at the Beijing Control Center
learned that after the take-off of Shenzhou-6, the operation of the vessel
willbe put under the command of Beijing general headquarters for the flight
mission, headed by Chen Bingde, member of the Central Military Commission and
head of the People's Liberation Army (PLA)General Armament Department, until the
end of the mission.
According to China's aerospace development plan, the
country's manned space program will be carried out in three stages, culminating
in the establishment of a permanent space laboratory.
China has completed the first stage of the program,
sending unmanned spacecraft and a manned spacecraft into near-earth orbit.
Shenzhou-6 will mark the beginning of the second
stage, during which China will have more breakthroughs, such as manned space
flight carrying more than one person and lasting more than one day,space walking
of astronauts, and docking between capsule and spacemodule.
In the third stage, with a permanent space laboratory
and a space engineering system, Chinese astronauts and scientists will travel
between the earth and the space station to conduct scientific experiments of
larger scale in space regularly, for thepeaceful utilization of space and
exploitation of space resources
China National Radio, China Central Television, China Radio International, xinhuanet.com and people.com.cn are expected to begin live broadcast between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. Wednesday on Shenzhou-6's take off. Enditem