China to send second woman astronaut into space this year
Beijing: China is expected to send its second woman astronaut into space this year on-board the Shenzhou-10, the country's new manned spacecraft, which should be launched sometime between June and August.
Zhou Jianping, the head designer of China's manned space programme, told Xinhua news agency that he expects a female astronaut to participate in the mission, together with two male astronauts.
The Shenzhou-10 is expected to dock with the orbiting lab module Tiangong-1, he said.
Last year China had sent its first woman astronaut on- board Shenzhou-9 which successfully docked with the Tiangong-1, the space module in orbit.
"The three astronauts will stay in orbit for 15 days, including 12 days when they will work inside the coupled complex of the Shenzhou-10 and Tiangong-1," said Zhou, who will attend the upcoming annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
To popularise scientific knowledge and inspire enthusiasm for science, the chief designer said the astronauts will give lectures to students via a video feed as they work in the Tiangong-1 lab module.
The Tiangong-1 was sent into space in September 2011. It later docked with the Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft in November 2011 and with the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft in June.