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China to establish space lab in 2011, station in 2020


BEIJING (PTI): Buoyed by the success of its first spacewalk, China has now set its sights on launching a space lab in 2011 and establishing a space station in 2020. According to the manned space programme spokesperson Wang Zhaoyao, China aims to set up a space station in 2020 and launch a "simple" space lab in 2011.

“The station will be manned,” Wang Zhaoyao told a press conference following the successful return of the country's third manned mission Shenzhou VII after a 68-hour voyage during which Chinese astronaut Zhai Zhigang performed the country's first space walk.

China will also test the orbiter docking technology after the Shenzhou VII mission, he was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said it is the Chinese people's persistent aspiration to develop the manned spaceflight technologies for the peaceful exploration and use of the outer space.

“The successful mission marked a milestone and great leap forward of China's space technology development as China became the third country capable of spacewalk,” Wen said.

Wen congratulated the three astronauts and space scientists, saying that "it is a new important success in our nation's space technology field, and the country and the people will always treasure up your historical achievements." The great success will also play a significant role for the development of the country's economy, technology and national defence, as well as for the promotion of national solidarity in the country's modernisation drive, he said.

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