Zhang Qingwei, President of the China Aerospace Science & Technology Corp (CASC), has said that China is expected to launch its second manned space flight next year.

The next space vessel, the Shenzhou-VI, will spend five to seven days in space with more than one person aboard, this after Wang Yongzhi, chief architect of China's space project, said last November that Shenzhou-VI was designed to carry up to three astronauts, and was capable of flying in outer space for up to seven days.

The exact number, however, appears not to have been determined yet–Wang Liheng, director of the Science and Technology Commission and former deputy chief commander of China's manned space program, said the number of astronauts to be sent into space on the second manned flight would be decided after experts had completed analysis of the data collected from Shenzhou-V.

The country is working on breakthroughs in technology related to space rendezvous and docking, space walks, space labs and deep-space exploration.

Separately, the first half of 2005 will witness China's launch of its first satellite–Sinosat-II–based on a new-generation satellite platform.


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