Chinese space launch next week

Plunging temperatures and overcast skies are not expected to hamper China's first manned space launch scheduled for next week.

    Satellite image of the Jiuquan Space Launch Centre

    Skies have turned cloudy in north China with forecasts detailing that the mercury will dip between 8-12 degrees Celsius in the coming days, with freezing temperatures over much of Inner Mongolia.

    Weather forecasters at the launch site said a frigid weather front, blowing in from Russia's Siberia, was causing the colder, wetter weather, but that it would not influence the launch, the state-owned media service Information Times reported.

    "Around 15 October, we expect the weather to improve, the recent fall in temperature will not have a big impact on the launch and recovery of the Shenzhou V," forecasters were quoted as saying.

    The government has announced that the Shenzhou V manned space vehicle will be launched between 15-17 October from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in Gansu province, adjacent to Inner Mongolia, and will orbit the earth 14 times on a 21-hour mission.

    Landing is scheduled to take place in Inner Mongolia.

    If successful, the launch will place China alongside Russia and the United States as the only countries to put a man in space, but China's flight follows the earliest manned space flights by about 42 years.

    Although experts predict the Shenzhou V will only carry one passenger, dubbed "taikonaut" from the Chinese word for outer space, the capsule is capable of carrying up to three people, meaning China's maiden manned flight could conceivably have more than one pilot.



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