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June 3-9, 2013 / Vol 32, No 22 / Hawai`i Island, USA

31 May 2013, 20:42 UTC
June 3-9, 2013 / Vol 32, No 22 / Hawai`i Island, USA
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Shenzhou 10: Evolution of China Human Spaceflight… Leading to the Moon?

The China National Space Agency human spaceflight program Shenzhou 10 mission launches as early as June 7 from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert 1,600 km west of Beijing. Carried by the advanced Long March 2F rocket, the capsule and 3 Taikonauts, expected to include second female China spaceflyer Wang Yaping, are scheduled to make final planned rendezvous with “proto-space station” Tiangong 1. A quality review panel headed by Academician Bao Weimin has given the go-ahead for continued launch preparations. The mission will demonstrate manual and automated docking with the 8,000-kg orbiting target vehicle and the crew will use their short stay to conduct scientific experiments and presentations to spectators on Earth. The next generation Tiangong 2 launching in 2013 will be much larger at 20,000 kg and serve as a fully functional space laboratory capable of 3-person life support for up to 20 days. Some analysts foresee a convergence of the Shenzhou / Tiangong programs with the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program. The Moon-bound lander / rover combo Chang’e-3, expected to launch in 2013, is just one major step away from the automated sample return mission Chang’e-5 ...

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