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Launching center getting prepared for Shenzhou VII
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China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is getting prepared for the Shenzhou VII spacewalk mission scheduled for late September and early October, said director of the center Zhang Yulin.

"Preparations for the mission are in full swing, and we're confident in its success," said Zhang, a deputy to the 11th National People's Congress, in an interview with Xinhua on Saturday. The spacewalk of Shenzhou VII taikonauts, Chinese term of astronauts, is crucial to establishing a big space laboratory or station, he said. "The mission is therefore more challenging than the Shenzhou VI."

The spacecraft will also release a small inspection satellite, which monitors its own performance.

The Jiuquan center has developed a large-scale simulation system for the training, consisting ground equipment, surveillance devices and digital emulational rockets with a scale of 1:1, said Zhang.

China began its manned space program in 1999. It successfully sent Yang Liwei into orbit on the Shenzhou V spacecraft in 2003.

Two years later, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng completed a Chinese record of five-day flight on the Shenzhou VI. All returned safely.

(Xinhua News Agecny March 8, 2008)

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