|Shenzhou IX to Launch This Year|
China plans to send three astronauts into space this year, aboard a spacecraft named Shenzhou IX designed to rendezvous and dock with Tiangong-1, further testing the docking technologies applied so far, a spokesman for China's manned space program said recently.
According to the mission plan, the spacecraft Shenzhou IX will be launched sometime between June and August this year to rendezvous and dock with Tiangong-1, an orbiting spacecraft. Once the docking is complete, astronauts will enter Tiangong-1, living there and conducting scientific experiments, before returning to the ground. Tiangong-1 is now ready to accommodate the astronauts, as confirmed by a comprehensive assessment of the onboard engineering systems.
The Shenzhou IX spacecraft and its carrier rocket, the CZII-F, have been assembled and are undergoing final checks. Astronauts have been trained, and the launch site, landing sites, and control/communication systems have been working smoothly for the launch.