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A confident Shenzhou VII team reaches launch centre

BEIJING (BNS): The countdown has begun for the launch of China’s third manned space mission Shenzhou VII. All six Chinese astronauts, three qualified and three substitutes, arrived at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gansu Province on Sunday by a special flight.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua said that all the astronauts were brimming with confidence to accomplish the mission after undergoing various training and tests. One of the six astronauts will also conduct a spacewalk outside the capsule, Xinhua said.

The spacecraft is set for launch between September 25 and 30.

Meanwhile, as part of the final launch, the Shenzhou VII manned spaceship, the Long-March II-F rocket and the escape tower have been vertically transferred to the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu Province on Saturday last. The transfer ended at 3:15 pm on Saturday.

Xinhua reported that the 58.3-meter-high body was transferred to the launch pad on a 1,500-meter-long heavy rail line. It said the transfer lasted more than one hour and two check-ups were conducted with more than 20 meteorological workers taking part in the process.

The agency said that since October 1996, the Long-March series rockets have successfully launched 108 missions. The Shenzhou VII project will be its 109th mission.

According to earlier reports, one of the three astronauts would conduct a space walk and cameras would be mounted outside and inside of the Shenzhou VII spaceship for live broadcast of the walk.

Xinhua said that the while the previous Shenzhou VI mission was primarily aimed at manning the flight for many days, the current mission aims to conduct a space walk.

Since 2003, the Communist regime has successfully put two manned spacecraft into orbit, becoming the third country to send an astronaut into space after the United States and the Soviet Union.

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