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3rd manned spaceship to blast off after Olympics
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China plans to launch Shenzhou VII spacecraft, its third manned spaceship, with three taikonauts aboard next October, according to Pang Zhihao, a researcher with the China Academy of Space Technology.

"The taikonauts will walk in space for the first time and each move will be live broadcasted," the Oriental Morning Post quoted Pang as saying today.

"They will be attached to the capsule with a belt when walking in the space, which will be safer and the belt can transfer communication signals and oxygen," Pang said.

The taikonauts can walk as far as five meters using a belt, Pang said.

China's first taikonaut Yang Liwei said in an earlier report that the astronauts will perform work outside the capsule such as installing equipment and "tightening screws."

China launched its first unmanned experimental spacecraft in November 1999 and the Shenzhou V spacecraft, with China's first taikonaut Yang aboard, was launched on October 15, 2003. China became the third country in the world to send a man into space.

The Shenzhou VI spacecraft completed a five-day flight with two taikonauts on board from October 12-17, 2005, the first occasion on which China put two taikonauts into space.

(Shanghai Daily November 20, 2007)

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