China to Launch Shenzhou 9 Spacecraft in June
   2012-02-15 17:15:00    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Fuyu

China plans to launch the unmanned Shenzhou 9 spacecraft in June 2012, to complete space rendezvous and docking missions with the Tiangong-1 space lab module, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation told the Legal Evening News.

The launch of the manned Shenzhou 10 will be delayed until next year according to the latest schedule.

Zhu Yilin, a researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology, says Shenzhou 9 will perform similar tasks to that of its predecessor, Shenzhou 8.

"The only difference will be their orbits, which is a result of different launch times. Aside from this, it will basically repeat Shenzhou 8's tasks," Zhu said.

In addition, Shenzhou 9 will also carry seeds and animals into space in order to conduct experiments.

But the most important task for Shenzhou 9 is to test the passageway that connects the spacecraft with the Tiangong-1 module, which will lay the groundwork for the future Shenzhou 10 mission.

Zhu says the passageway has remained closed after the successful docking of Shenzhou 8 and Tianggong-1. The passageway is extremely important because it allows astronauts access to the space lab, where most of their tasks will take place.

Once made accessible, scientists will be able to monitor the humidity and temperature of both spacecraft to ensure the future safety of astronauts aboard Shenzhou 10 and other future manned missions.

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