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Launch of China's manned spacecraft Shenzhou-9 scheduled
2012/02/17

BEIJING, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- China will launch its manned Shenzhou-9 spacecraft between June and August this year, as well as conduct a space rendezvous and docking mission with the orbiting Tiangong-1 space lab module, a spokesman for China's manned space program said Friday.

The space docking mission will be manually conducted by astronauts, giving China another chance to test its docking technology, the spokesman said.

The Shenzhou-9's three crew members will board the Tiangong-1 after the docking is completed, living there and conducting scientific experiments.

An evaluation of the program was carried out following a previous rendezvous by the Tiangong-1 and the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft, showing that all relevant systems are in good condition and are ready for a manned docking, the spokesman said.

The orbiting Tiangong-1 is ready to accommodate the astronauts, and the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft and its carrier rocket, the Long-March II-F, are undergoing final checks, the spokesman said.

The Tiangong-1 went into space on Sept. 29, 2011, docking with the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft to complete China's first space docking mission just over a month later.

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