China's manned space program are being carried out in three stages, which will culminate in the establishment of a permanent space laboratory, according to China's aerospace development plan.
In the first stage of the program, China has sent unmanned spacecraft and a manned spacecraft into near-earth orbit, conducting observations of the earth and scientific experiments in space, and bringing the astronaut safely back to the earth.
China blast off its first manned spacecraft, Shenzhou-5, which carried Yang Liwei, into orbit on Oct. 15, 2003, and safely brought him back the following day.
The planned launch of Shenzhou-7 spacecraft Thursday featuring China's first attempt of space walking will be just one step of the program's second stage.
In the second stage, the first step was a manned space flight carrying more than one person and lasting more than one day, which was completed by Shenzhou-6 in 2005. The upcoming space walking will be the second step, and the third step will be docking between capsule and space module. On this basis, China will put in orbit a space laboratory attended to by humans for short periods and establish a fully-equipped space engineering system.
In the third stage, China will build a permanent space laboratory and a space engineering system. Astronauts and scientists will travel between the earth and the space station to conduct scientific experiments of larger scale.
After that, Chinese astronauts and scientists will conduct experiments in space regularly, laying a solid foundation for the peaceful utilization of space and exploitation of space resources.
(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2008)