Monday, June 11, 2012

China Prepares for Taikonaut Launch

China's Ministry of Defense web site reports that the nation is about to launch a three-member crew to dock with an orbiting platform.

The launch will be China's fourth manned spaceflight, after three successful missions between 2003 and 2008 that put six astronauts in space.

China's manned spaceflight program aims to build a 60-ton space station around 2020, based on a three-step plan.

The first has been successfully completed, after four unmanned spacecraft and two manned spacecraft were launched between 1999 and 2005 to transport men between Earth and space.

The second step aims to master the key technologies used for assembling a space station. Shenzhou VIII with three men on board achieved the country's first extravehicular activity in 2008. With that ability, astronauts can work outside a space station.

The web site reports that the launch will be on June 16 and will include China's first female astronaut.

Chinese astronauts have been called a "taikonaut" in some publications but it's not a universally accepted translation.

It should be interesting to see who here in the United States tries to spin this as another "Sputnik Moment" and claim that the national security of the United States is at stake.

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