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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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Leonard David
Leonard David

Leonard David is an award-winning space journalist who has been reporting on space activities for more than 50 years. Currently writing as Space.com's Space Insider Columnist among his other projects, Leonard has authored numerous books on space exploration, Mars missions and more, with his latest being "Moon Rush: The New Space Race" published in 2019 by National Geographic. He also wrote "Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet" released in 2016 by National Geographic. Leonard  has served as a correspondent for SpaceNews, Scientific American and Aerospace America for the AIAA. He was received many awards, including the first Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History in 2015 at the AAS Wernher von Braun Memorial Symposium. You can find out Leonard's latest project at his website and on Twitter.