China to launch third manned spacecraft Thursday

September 24th, 2008 - 3:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Jiuquan (China), Sep 24 (Xinhua) China will launch its third manned spacecraft Shenzhou-7 Thursday, a spokesperson of the space programme said Wednesday. The Shenzhou-7, carrying three astronauts, will be launched on a Long March II-F carrier rocket from Jiuquan launch centre in the northwest province of Gansu and then moved into orbit at an altitude of 343 km, Wang Zhaoyao, who is also the deputy chief of the manned space programme, told reporters.

Two astronauts would enter the orbital module, where they would prepare for a spacewalk Friday.

The spacewalk, the first by Chinese astronauts, is expected to last about 40 minutes and is to be televised live via cameras mounted outside the space capsule and on a mini-satellite to be released from Shenzhou VII in orbit.

The Shenzhou-7 is scheduled to land in the central area of Mongolia in northern China after its mission is completed, Wang said.

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