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Fri, Dec 24, 2004

China's Second Manned Space Mission Set For September

Two Taikonauts Will Be On Board

Flushed with success from its first launch earlier this year, China will send another space flight in September. This time, the Shenzhou V spacecraft will carry two "taikonauts."

One of them may actually be China's first man in space. Fighter pilot Yang Liwei is one of 14 candidates now training for the mission.

But you might call him a reluctant astronaut this time around.

"All things being equal, I would prefer to let other astronauts go up on Shenzhou VI. That way China would have three astronauts who will have been into space," he said, quoted by official Chinese media.

There's no specific word from Beijing on the goals for the September mission. The taikonauts, however, will most likely stay inside their capsule, rather than venture out on a spacewalk. That's planned for the flight of Shenzhou VII, the third Chinese space flight. Timing for that launch has not been announced.

FMI: www.cnsa.gov.cn/main_e.asp

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