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Two Astronauts to Spend a Week in Space

China will send at least two astronauts into outer space in autumn 2005 and they will stay there for at least one week, according to Yang Jiachi, academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). Yang made the remarks at an ongoing conference of academicians, organized jointly by the CAS and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) and held from June 2 to 6 in Beijing.

The astronauts will move between the reentry and orbital modules during their flight to conduct experiments and various exercises, according to Yang, who described this as the biggest breakthrough for the mission.

China followed in the footsteps of the former Soviet Union and the United States to achieve manned space flight last October, when astronaut Yang Liwei orbited the earth 14 times.

"Possibly, Yang Liwei may not be chosen for this mission," Yang said.

However, detailed plans, including exactly how many astronauts will be sent into space and how long they will stay there, have yet to be made.

Although methods have been developed to send multiple astronauts into orbit together, safety and reliability tests on related equipment are still under way, Yang said.
"Many problems cannot be easily checked out after the spaceship is launched," the scientist pointed out. "What's more, what we are sending are real human beings, so we must be most careful."

Yang said scientists always act as psychological coaches in the selection of astronauts, encouraging them to be fully confident.

A Long March IIF carrier rocket will be used to launch the mission and the design of the Shenzhou VI will remain basically the same as that of the Shenzhou V.

Yang, 85, was one of the initiators of China's 863 High-Tech Program and also an academician with the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA).

(Xinhua News Agency June 4, 2004)

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