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China to carry out its first space walk on Friday

BEIJING: A Chinese astronaut will carry out the country's first space walk on Friday when Beijing launches its third manned space mission late tomorrow, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The Chinese astronaut is expected to leave the spacecraft at 4:30 pm local time on Friday for the space walk which will last for 40 minutes as the spacecraft cruise high over the Chinese mainland.

Xinhua quoting the Mission Commander Cui Jinjun s saying that the event would be broadcast live via a small satellite. Fighter pilot Zhai Zhigang would carry out the spacewalk wearing a Chinese-made space suit.

The Shenzhou-7 spacecraft carrying three astronauts would lift off from the Jiuquan launch centre in northwest China and the space mission - China's most ambitious till date - is expected to last three days.

Other task of the space mission, a spokesperson of the Chinese space programme said, included the release of small monitoring satellite and trials of satellite data relay.

The Chinese officials describe the launch of the third manned space mission as "a big leap of its space programme" In 2003, China became the third country after the United States and Russia to send a manned mission into orbit and this success was followed up by launching two-man space mission in 2005. (PTI)

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