Manned Space Mission to be Launched in June
Between June to August of this year, China will be sending three astronauts on a Long March rocket to dock with the Tiangong space laboratory, better known as the Heavenly Palace, that is currently orbiting the earth. The identities of the three astronauts still remains a secret and their space travel is said to break records in China’s brief entry into human space flight.
The Taikonauts will be riding aboard a Shenzhou IX spaceship and will be executing a docking procedure with the space station under manual control. Shenzhou VIII, the ship’s predecessor successfully completed the maneuver last year using computer controls and without any human interference. The success gave mission clearance and the confidence to push through with the space program. So far, there is no news on what the astronauts will be doing in the space laboratory or how long they will be staying but sources say that the astronauts will be doing scientific experiments and bioengineering tests that were not previously done in Tiangong.
The scheduled summer space launch is usual since most Chinese manned flights are done in Autumn and during the National Day holidays. However, due to the rapid development of the space programs, officials were planning less scheduled space flights during annual celebrations. This year alone there are 20 space projects lined up to take off and the economic and defense value is more important that any political showcases.
Project officials hope that the Shenzhou IX mission will go smoothly and be more successful than Shenzhou VIII as the automatic docking system was reliable and no failures were detected.