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China's riskiest space mission yet

i know from correspondence that a lot of you are as passionate about space exploration as am I. Those who aren't, look away now.
Written by Rupert Goodwins, Contributor on

i know from correspondence that a lot of you are as passionate about space exploration as am I. Those who aren't, look away now.

China is about to launch Shenzhou VII, its third manned space mission. Unlike the two previous -- and apparently successful -- launches, this one is reported to go directly against the country's inclination to keep secrets, report the good and bury the bad. Not that we don't all feel the same way, but China is rather better at it than most.

This time, it's different. Not only will a taikonaut don a Chinese-developed spacesuit and slip outside for the country's first EVA, but the event is expected to be broadcast live via a custom robot camera satellite drifting alongside. In 3D yet.

There are other firsts - it's the first three-man mission, following the two-man launch in 2005 and the initial single man effort in 2003. Lots more details in Nature's report: expect it to go up between the 25th and 30th of September - quite possibly at 13:10 GMT on the 25th - and last for five days. All being well.

Good luck, chaps.

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