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Efforts to be made to ensure astronauts' safety
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China will put the lives of the three astronauts onboard the Shenzhou VII spacecraft at the first place, said Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the country's manned space program Wednesday in Jiuquan.

The manned space activities are highly risky so the astronauts draw much attention. China will make every effort to ensure the safety of the three astronauts at every phase of the mission, Zhou told reporters at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern Gansu Province.

The spacecraft is scheduled to blast off at the center Thursday evening.

A raft of safety measures have been taken including the application of the escape system and the emergency return model to cope with the possible trouble, he said.

The Extra Vehicular Activities (EVA), which will be conducted for the first time, make the mission more risky, Zhou said. To ensure the safety of the astronauts, China has developed the highly-reliable EVA suit after three years of research. The astronauts are also capable of fulfilling the tasks after tremendous hard trainings.

"Those are vital to minimize the risks and ensure the success of the mission." Zhou said.

As countless space debris were left in space as a result of human activities, they pose grave threat to the safety of the vessels. Shenzhou VII, however, is unlikely to be hit by the debris, expert said on Wednesday.

"As long as the spaceship could avoid the ten most dangerous period of time, the chance of the collision will stand below one-of-a-million," said Gong Jiancun, director of the research and forecast center of space environment under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The collision chance is below one-of-ten-thousand even during the ten most risky period of time, Gong said.

Besides space debris, high-radioactive high energy particles also pose threats to the spacecraft. Gong said the current forecast showed the space environment would be sound when EVA would be conducted. It is unlikely to see big disturbances and collision.

The detrimental particles will not only cause breath failure, but also pose radioactive threats. In theory, the astronaut's physical condition will be affected undoubtedly when EVA is carried out.

Gong said the warning system will alarm if bad space environment emerges, to keep astronauts from harm.

To make the astronauts feel at ease, the Shenzhou VII has undergone interiol renovation under the suggestion of Yang Liwei, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng, who fulfilled China's previous two manned space missions.

The brown floor board and the white wall will make the astronauts feel at home despite of the zero-gravity condition." said Zhang Bohan, chief designer of the manned spacecraft system.

(Xinhua News Agency September 25, 2008)

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