China’s Next Space Travelers in Training

Chinais ramping up preparations for that country's second human spaceflight laterthis year. According to the Xinhua news agency, 10 astronauts in five pairs arein the run-up to pilot the Shenzhou-6 spaceship.

The two-person crew willnot be selected "until the last minute" said Huang Chunping, the chief launchvehicle designer of China's human spaceflight program, he was quoted as saying,based on a report in the Beijing Times newspaper Friday.

China'sfirst piloted spaceflight was carried out in October 2003, a mission lasting alittle over 21 hours in duration. At the controls of that craft was Yang Liwei- who is also among the trainees for the upcoming two-person space shotexpected to last for over five days.

Huang also said Shenhou-6will carry two new upgrades: a video transmission system so ground controllerscan monitor the separation of the rocket and the spaceship live; and a betterescape system for the pilots in case of emergencies. Lastly, Huang said the twospace travelers would enter the roomy forward module of Shenzhou-6 to carry outexperiments.

There are no plans for thecrew to carry out a space walk, he said.

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