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China's First Astronaut Will Not Fly on Shenzhou 6

China's First Astronaut Heads for the Silver Screen
China's first astronaut Yang Liwei is greeted by officials upon his arrival in Beijing Thursday Oct. 16, 2003. Fresh from a history-making trip into orbit, China's newly minted space hero proclaimed his amazement Thursday at "the greatest day of my life" as his leaders announced they would push forward in their exploration of the cosmos. (AP Photo/Xinhua Photo, Zhao Jianwei)

SHANGHAI, China (AP) -China plans to send its second manned space mission into orbit next month, but theman who made the first trip won't be along.

Instead, Yang Liwei, anational hero since blasting into space aboard the Shenzhou V spacecraft inOctober 2003, is helping train candidate astronauts to ride in the Shenzhou VI,the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

"I will not take thismission,'' Yang was quoted as saying. China earlier this month said it wasnarrowing the list of candidates for the mission, scheduled for mid-October.

Plans call for the capsuleto carry two astronauts - or "taikonauts'' for the Chinese word for space - ona five- or six-day flight. Previous reports said 14 former fighter pilots weretraining for the mission.

The military-backed spaceprogram is a major prestige project for the communist government. China hasannounced plans to land an unmanned probe on the moon by 2010 and operate aspace station.

Beijing does notparticipate in the U.S.-led international space station project.

Yang was quoted as sayingthe astronauts would have more space this time than when he made his 21-hourflight, inhabiting the craft's orbit capsule as well as its return module.They'll have more creature comforts too, including heated food, sleeping bagsand "essential sanitary equipment.''

China will begin a majorrecruiting drive for astronauts - including women - beginning next year.

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