China says all systems have passed through final preparations and are
ready for the country's third manned trip to outer space, which is scheduled to
launch Thursday night. One of the three astronauts on board will be the first
Chinese to walk in space. Stephanie Ho reports from Beijing.
Three Chinese astronauts met with
reporters Wednesday, one day before they are due to launch into outer space in
the Shenzhou 7, which means "sacred vessel" in Chinese.
Haipeng says China is ready to impress the world.
Jing says he and his
fellow astronauts have confidence, determination and capability to take the
first step in outer space for the Chinese people.
Astronaut Zhai Zhigang
says the mission marks a historic breakthrough in China's manned space
Zhai says it is a great honor for him to represent China as an
This is China's third manned mission to outer space. China
sent up its first Shenzhou mission in 2003.
Chinese authorities say the
Shenzhou 7 space ship is due to launch Thursday night, from the Jiuquan
Satellite Launch center in the western province of Gansu. It will orbit the
earth at an altitude of 343 kilometers.
The deputy director of China's
manned space engineering office, Wang Zhaoyao, says the highlight of this
mission will be what is called extravehicular activity, or EVA, which is better
known as a spacewalk.
Wang says one of the Chinese astronauts will
conduct the spacewalk and recover experimental sample devices. The mission's
other tasks include the release of a small monitoring satellite and satellite
data relay trials.
The astronauts will be wearing either a Chinese-made
Feitian space suit or a Russian-made Orlan suit.
Wang called the Shenzhou
mission "an important event" in the history of manned space flight cooperation
between China and Russia.
Meanwhile, China is also well on its way to the
moon. The country last October launched its first ever lunar probe, called the
Chang-e-One, which is due to be in orbit for about one year.
At the time
of the launch, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Chinese people have been dreaming
of flying to the moon for more than 1,000 years. He said the success of the
Chang-e-One mission will elevate China's international status and, in his words,
"cement" national cohesion.
China plans to send a mission to the moon in
The launch of the Change-e-One came shortly after Japan launched
its first ever lunar probe. India is expected to launch its own lunar probe
later this year.