China ‘plans manned space launch’ in 2013
China is aiming to launch its next manned space mission as early as June 2013, state media reported Saturday, as the country steps up its ambitious exploration programme. The Shenzhou-10, with three crew members, is aiming for a primary launch window in June, Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of the manned space programme, told China National Radio in an interview Friday. Niu, speaking on the sidelines of China’s 18th Communist Party Congress that kicked off Thursday in Beijing, said officials had identified a back-up launch window for July or August. He said one of the three astronauts would likely be a woman. China sent its first female astronaut, Liu Yang, into space earlier this year on the Shenzhou-9 in the country’s first manual space docking mission. The docking procedure was a major milestone in the country’s ambitious space programme that has a goal of building a space station by the end of the decade.
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