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.