China launches spacecraft on spacewalk mission

September 25th, 2008 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Sep 25 (Xinhua) China’s third manned spacecraft Shenzhou-VII carrying three astronauts on the country’s first-ever spacewalk mission blasted off from the northwestern Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre Thursday.During the three-day mission astronaut Zhai Zhigang will make the spacewalk Friday, while the other two crew members, Liu Boming and Jing Haiping, will assist him with leaving and re-entering the spacecraft.

Earlier late afternoon, Chinese President Hu Jintao saw off the astronauts at the Jiuquan space centre in the northwestern province of Gansu before they headed to the nearby launch-pad.

Hu praised the astronauts, who are all former military fighter pilots, for their “excellent quality”, in a brief meeting some three and a half hours before the scheduled launch at 9.10 p.m.

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