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Saturday, November 10, 2012

China's Shenzhou-10 to Launch in June 2013

China plans to launch another manned spacecraft Shenzhou-10 in early June 2013 with the crew probably including two males and a female taikonaut for the purpose o re-entering the Tiangong-1 space lab module, a lead space program official disclosed at  the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China meeting in Beijing.  A back-up launch window is set for July or August.
 
Shenzhou set for June 2013 launch
Chinese media outlet Xinhua reports that Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of China's manned space program, as saying, the taikonuat crew of Shenzhou-10 "will stay in space for 15 days, operating both automated and manual space dockings with the target orbiter Tiangong-1, conducting scientific experiments in the lab module and giving science lectures to spectators on the Earth."
 
"After more than a year of operation in space, Tiangong-1 is still in good condition," Niu said.
 
Space labs Tiangong-2 and Tiangong-3 will be launched between 2014 and 2018 as it has previously been disclosed by Chinese space officials. As for the Shenzhou program, and four more spacecraft will be launched in the near future to connect with these modules to conduct experiments.

There has been discussion of China joining the International Space Station project, but this is considered unlikely given political tensions between Beijing and Washington, notes the BBC. The Russians and Europeans have voiced encouragement for Chinese participation in the $100-billion International Space Station project.

Bay of Rainbows Chang'e-3 site
Meanwhile, China has chosen a landing spot for its third lunar exploration mission, which will be launched next year, the China National Space Administration said. The Chang'e-3, set to become the first Chinese spacecraft to land on an extraterrestrial body, will land on Sinus Iridum, or Bay of Rainbows, a place where its predecessor - the lunar orbiter Chang'e-2 - has already taken high-resolution photos.

In its last white paper on space, China said it was working towards landing a man on the moon, but did not specify a time-frame but it is expected to be around 2022. So far only the United States has achieved that feat, most recently in 1972.

China sees its space program as a symbol of its rising global stature, growing technical expertise, and the Communist Party’s success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation, notes The Guardian Express newspaper.

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