| Xinhua | 2012-6-10 8:40:00
The Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft, the Long March-2F rocket, and the escape tower wait to be vertically transferred to the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province, June 9, 2012. China will launch its Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft sometime in mid-June to perform the country's first manned space docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module, a spokesperson with the country's manned space program said Saturday. Photo: Xinhua
China will launch its Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft sometime in mid-June to perform the country's first manned space docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module, a spokesperson said Saturday.
The spacecraft and its carrier rocket, the Long March-2F, were moved to the launch platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Saturday, a spokesperson with the country's manned space program said.
"The Shenzhou-9 will perform our country's first manned space docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module," Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the manned space program, said as he accompanied the spacecraft to the launch platform,
"It means China's spacecraft will become a genuine manned shuttle tool between space and Earth. It can send human beings to space stations or space labs. This will be a significant step in China's manned space flight history," Zhou said.
In the next few days, scientists will conduct functional tests on the spacecraft and the rocket, as well as joint tests on selected astronauts, spacecraft, rocket and ground systems, according to the spokesperson.
The manned spacecraft Shenzhou-9 and its carrier rocket were delivered to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in early April this year.
The Tiangong-1, or Heavenly Palace-1, was lowered to docking orbit in early June and is orbiting normally, the spokesperson said.
The final preparations are running smoothly, and the selected astronauts have completed their training and are in sound physical and mental conditions, according to the spokesperson.
Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of the country's manned space program, said in March that the three-person crew on Shenzhou-9 might include female astronauts, but the final selection would be decided "on the very last condition."
The space docking mission will be manually conducted by astronauts, giving China another chance to test its docking technology, the program's spokesperson said in February.
One of the three Shenzhou-9 crew members will not board the Tiangong-1 space module lab, but will remain inside the spacecraft as a precautionary measure in case of emergency, the spokesperson said in February.
The target module Tiangong-1, which blasted off on Sept. 29, 2011, went into long-term operation in space awaiting the docking attempts of the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 after completing China's first space docking mission with the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft in early November.
By leaving a comment, you agree to abide by all terms and conditions (See the Comment section).