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Spacewalk key to building space lab: CPPCC member
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The spacewalk of taikonauts, Chinese term of astronaut, aboard the Shenzhou VII spacecraft is crucial to establishing a big space laboratory or station, a senior space engineer said.

"The taikonauts will move out of the spacecraft and exchange with the staff in other space probes, a crucial technical preparation for building a large space lab or station in the future," said Qi Faren, former chief designer of China's Shenzhou spaceships.

There would be three taikonauts aboard the Shenzhou VII, without the presence of a female, he revealed.

Qi, a member of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), make the remarks on the sidelines of the annual full session of the top political advisory body.

"It would pose a greater challenge for the taikonauts to fix and assemble larger space probes with zero gravity and stay for some time out of the craft," he said.

The spacewalk also requires high technical standards for the Shenzhou VII in terms of security and life and energy supply systems, as the taikonauts will work and live for three to five days in space.

The Shenzhou VII spacecraft will be launched at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern province of Gansu in the latter half of this year, according to Qi.

(Xinhua News Agency, March 4, 2008)

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