The colonel, the first Chinese man in space, will not be along members of a new space team. The new mission Shenzou VI, should take off in mid-October.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) Yang Liwei, the first Chinese in space, is not among the astronauts making up the second national manned mission of the Space Programme. According to Chinese newspapers, Col. Yang, who became a national hero after making the circling the Earth solo 14 times in October 2003, said he wanted to make way for other astronauts to have a similar opportunity. He told Xinhua: "I won't go on the Shenzhou VI mission."
The military man confirmed that the mission will take place in mid-October 2005 but added that he had been "too involved in the selection and training of 13 other astronauts in line for a seat on the craft" to prepare himself.
The "taikonauta" said the Shenzhou VI flight would differ from his mission. In the first place, it would involve two astronauts and last five to seven days. Also, the astronauts would, for the first time, make their way from the re-entry module to an orbital module to conduct experiments. The colonel said the astronauts would be more comfortable, with sleeping bags and facilities for heating food. The mission successfully concluded by Yang put China in third place among nations who sent men to space after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
The second Chinese manned mission, according to some reports, will take off using a Long March 2F rocket, after the October 1 to 7 national holiday. The same sources said the flight would leave from the Jiuquan Space Launch Centre in Gansu province (interior Mongolia).
Traditionally, the space programme has always been shrouded in secrecy but since the success of the first mission, Chinese authorities have shown more transparency in the course of operations.
Two astronauts, Jing and Chen, will stay in space for 33 days. They will conduct studies and pharmaceutical, physical and biological tests. Congratulations from President Xi Jinping: "A new contribution to building China as a space power."
Chinese leaders are making triumphant noises. Experts say the mission was partly intended to stimulate the "national pride" of a people worried about poverty, social problems and corruption.
There may be a short delay if weather conditions are not favourable. The space mission will take five days. Only national media agencies were given the opportunity to cover the event; the rest were denied access. For the first time, there will be a two-man crew.