Beijing, Jun 10: China will send its second woman astronaut into space tomorrow as part of its longest mission yet, as the country works towards building a Spacelab of its own to rival Mir, being run by Russia and the United States.
The Shenzhou-10 manned spacecraft will be launched on a Long March rocket at 5:38 pm local time tomorrow, China's manned space program spokesperson, Wu Ping told the media.
Wang Yaping, 35, the second woman to go into space after Liu Yang last year, will be onboard while the mission will be commanded by Nie Haisheng and will have Zhang Xiaoguang as the third crew member.
Yaping, who hails from a farmer's family from east China missed the chance last year to become the first Chinese woman to go to space.
An airforce pilot, she lost it narrowly to fellow pilot Yang, who was onboard the Shenzhou IX, June last. At 13 days, it was described at that time the longest space mission yet.
The spacecraft will travel in the space for 15 days and go through two docking tests with the orbiting space lab module Tiangong-1, one automatic and the other manual, Wu said.
This is the second such mission built China's first Spacelab which was expected to be fully ready by 2020 by which time Mir, which currently orbiting was expected to complete its mission.
This would make the Chinese Spacelab the only such station in the space.
Besides medical and technical tests, astronauts will give a lecture to a group of students on the ground inside the Tiangong-1, introducing the weightless condition, Wu said.
The Tiangong-1 space lab has been in a stable condition and ready for docking tests and receiving astronauts, she said.
“The launch ground and all control systems are ready.
Astronauts are in good and stable condition,” she said. The upgraded Long March-2F carrier rocket has been fuelled since Monday afternoon, Wu said.
The spacecraft will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
This mission aims to further test technologies of docking and supporting astronauts' stay in space and try new technologies related to the construction of space station, she said.
Food for astronauts, as well as waste processing facilities, will be improved, she said.