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China’s Next Space Travelers in Training
China is ramping up preparations for that country’s second human spaceflight later this year. According to the Xinhua news agency, 10 astronauts in five pairs are in the run-up to pilot the Shenzhou-6 spaceship.
The two-person crew will not be selected “until the last minute” said Huang Chunping, the chief launch vehicle designer of China’s human spaceflight program, he was quoted as saying, based on a report in the Beijing Times newspaper Friday.
China’s first piloted spaceflight was carried out in October 2003, a mission lasting a little over 21 hours in duration. At the controls of that craft was Yang Liwei – who is also among the trainees for the upcoming two-person space shot expected to last for over five days.
Huang also said Shenhou-6 will carry two new upgrades: a video transmission system so ground controllers can monitor the separation of the rocket and the spaceship live; and a better escape system for the pilots in case of emergencies. Lastly, Huang said the two space travelers would enter the roomy forward module of Shenzhou-6 to carry out experiments.
There are no plans for the crew to carry out a space walk, he said.
-- Leonard David