c.2013 New York Times News Service
HONG KONG — China’s next space mission begins this month when a capsule carrying three astronauts will dock with an orbiting module, a spokesman for the space program said Monday.
The astronauts will be on board a Shenzhou 10 capsule, which will be launched on a rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing the spokesman, whom the agency did not name.
It will be China’s fifth space mission with astronauts, and the latest step in the country’s efforts to master the technology needed to establish a long-term human presence in space. China’s first spaceflight with astronauts on board was in 2003; the most recent one was a year ago, when it involved a docking with the Tiangong 1, a small module.
The spokesman told Xinhua that the astronauts this time will again dock with the module and perform experiments while there.
Chinese government scientists have also said they may eventually attempt to send an astronaut to the moon.