July 1, 2008

China’s Space Launch Research Team to Start Final Testing

The research team that developed Shenzhou VII, China's third manned space launch, will start final testing after arriving at a north-western satellite launch centre in a few days, said a space mission official here on Tuesday.

The research and development team of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC) will set out for the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in early July, said Zhang Bainan, chief designer of Shenzhou VII.

He said the spacecraft passed inspections by CASC and an expert panel.

"Shenzhou VII's functions and performance fulfil the comprehensive requirements of the space programme," he added.

Compared with Shenzhou VI, China's second manned space mission with a crew of two, Shenzhou VII has more stringent technological requirements: one of its three astronauts is scheduled to conduct a space walk.

The craft has a domestically developed airlock module that will be used for the first time, according to Zhang.

China successfully put two manned spacecraft into orbit in 2003 and 2005. Shenzhou VII is expected to be launched in October.