China plans to launch a manned spacecraft within a week to take three astronauts on the country's first manned space docking mission
BEIJING, China -- China is set to carry out its first manned space docking mission mid-June, according to reports by state news agency Xinhua.
The mission, planned for mid-June, involves the launch of three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft to dock with and live in the Tiangong 1 orbital space lab module which has been orbiting Earth since last year.
The spacecraft and its carrier rocket, the Long March-2F, were moved to the launch platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in north-west China on Saturday.
The mission is part of China's program to develop a 60-tonne manned space station by 2020.
China's space program has made steady progress since a 2003 launch that made it only the third country to autonomously put a man into space.
China sees its space programme as a symbol of its global stature.
China will launch a spacecraft this month to conduct its first manned space docking, state media said Saturday, the latest step in a plan aimed at giving the country a permanent space station by 2020. Duration: 01:02