Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New Scientist SPACE - Breaking News - China launches two 'taikonauts' into orbit

: "Read about China's 50-year-long space programme, its desert launch site, a sprawling oasis in the Gobi desert, and Shenzhou, the 'divine ship'.

Whatever the itinerary, Cheng says the flight means there's ÔÇťanother player' in the elite group of countries working on human spaceflight. 'The Chinese are saying Shenzhou V was not a flash in the pan - China intends to maintain a manned presence in space,' he told New Scientist.

Indeed, Chinese premier Wen Jiabao told the astronauts before the flight: 'You will once again show that the Chinese people have the will, confidence and capability to mount scientific peaks ceaselessly.'

China spends about $2 billion a year on its human spaceflight programme. It says it is likely to send the first woman taikonaut into space in five years and ultimately plans to build its own space station."

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