China will launch its third manned space mission in late September, sending three astronauts into Earth orbit. The mission will feature China’s first-ever space walk, according to the Xinhua News Agency, the official news agency of China. The Shenzhou 7 launch will take place sometime between Sept. 25 and 30, from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gansu province. The space walk will be broadcast live using cameras mounted on the inside and outside of the spacecraft.
The Long March rocket was loaded with fuel on Sunday. “All the major systems involved in the launching are now in the final preparation. The main tests for the spacecraft, the Long-March II-F rocket, suits for the space walk and a satellite accompanying the fly have also been finished,” said the spokesman.
On April 12, China launched a new space tracking satellite to assist with the Shenzhou-7 spacewalk mission. The new space tracking ship is the sister ship of the Yuanwang-5, which was put into use a year ago. Xinhua said the two vessels will play a key role in the Shenzhou-7 mission.
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In 2003, China became the third country in the world â€” along with the United States and Russia â€” to send a human into orbit. It followed with a two-man mission in 2005.
China also launched the Chang’e 1 moon orbiter in October of 2007.