China's first spacewalk mission, Shenzhou-7, is to launch as early as early as 25 September according to the Chinese government's Xinhua news agency.
On 6 September Xinhua reported that the Long March 2F rocket that would launch the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft and its crew of three was to be fuelled on 7 September and then rolled out to its launch pad soon after.
Shenzhou-7 is China's third manned mission and will see the country's first extra vehicular activity (EVA). The spacecraft will have an additional airlock module from which one astronaut will leave the spacecraft, according to Xinhua.
The news agency quoted Zhao Changxi, described as a "a senior scientist with the project", as saying cameras would be mounted outside and inside the ship for a live broadcast of the space walk.
In pictures of water tank training conducted for the mission, two astronauts carried out a simulated space walk together and the spacesuits appeared to be copies of the Russian Orlan suit used on the International Space Station. In 2006 the vice-administrator of the China National Space Administration told Flight that the EVA suits would have the label "Made in China" but Zvezda, the Russian company that makes the Orlan, declined to comment on whether China had bought its products.
The window for the mission is from the 25-30 September but the exact time for the launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in north-western Gansu province has not been given. China's first manned flight took place in 2003 with one astronaut onboard the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft and then in 2005 there was a two-crew flight for Shenzhou-6.