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China Plans October Spaceflight


The spacesuit for China's Shenzhou VI manned spaceship is shown for at the Shanghai Science Museum
China hopes to launch its second manned spaceflight in early October, with plans calling for two astronauts to circle the Earth for five to six days.

Sun Weigang, director of the Space Department at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. says two astronauts will be selected for the mission from a group of 14 air force fighter pilots.

The official told state China Daily Friday that the spacecraft Shenzhou Six will be used for the mission - China's first since a successful 21-hour flight in 2003.

Most details of China's space program have been kept secret over the years, but the successful mission two years ago has led to more openness. China's leadership is committed to landing an unmanned probe on the moon by 2010.

Chinese scientists also said Friday they intend to place two meteorological satellites in orbit, to improve weather forecasting before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing; later this year they will launch two additional orbiters, described only as scientific and experimental satellites capable of sending payloads back to Earth.

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