The Chinese government has disclosed more details of the forthcoming Shenzhou 6 flight, future spacewalks, docking missions and female taikonaut selection.

The two-crew, five-day Shenzhou 6 mission is scheduled for October. Three crew groups have been qualified and the flightcrew will be decided days before the launch. Chinese officials say that Yang Liwei, China’s first man in space, may not participate.

During the mission, the crew will enter the orbital module, attached to the entry capsule and equipped with sleeping bags, a toilet, a food heater and scientific experiments, without wearing spacesuits.

In a speech earlier this month in Fuzhou, capital of China’s Fujian province, Liwei said that the Shenzhou 7 spacewalk mission is planned for 2007 and will be followed by two missions, Shenzhou 8 and 9.

Both to be launched within six months of each other, before 2010, Shenzhou 9 will rendezvous and dock with the orbital module of Shenzhou 8. The Chinese air force has selected 35 female pilot trainees, aged 17 to 20. They might participate in the 2006 taikonaut selection, which is also open to non-military candidates.

The four or five selected to be taikonauts will be trained for missions from 2010-12.


Source: Flight International