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China readies launch platform for space mission
Publication Date : 10-06-2012
China will launch its Shenzhou IX 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 China's manned space programme said on Saturday.
By 10:30am on Saturday, the spacecraft and its carrier rocket, the Long March-2F, had been moved to the launch platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Northwest China, signalling the preparation work for the mission has entered the last stage, the anonymous spokesperson said in a public statement.
Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the manned space programme, said at the launch centre on Saturday that the mission will be "a significant step in China's space history", because the spacecraft will send astronauts into a space lab for the first time, instead of just carrying them to circle the Earth in previous three manned missions.
In the next few days, scientists will conduct tests on the spacecraft and the rocket, as well as combined tests on selected astronauts, spacecraft, rocket and ground systems.
Zhang Yonghua, deputy chief designer of the launch centre system, said that the air-conditioning and fire-fighting systems in the launching tower have been improved for this manned mission so as to strengthen facilities' stability and ensure the safety of astronauts.