China will launch its next manned space flight on Tuesday, carrying three astronauts on a 15-day mission to an experimental space lab, the National Space Administration said, in the latest step towards the development of a space station.
The Shenzhou 10 spacecraft will launch from a remote site in the Gobi desert in China's far west at 5:38 p.m., Wu Ping, spokeswoman for China's manned space program, told a televised briefing on Monday.
Once in orbit, the craft will dock with the Tiangong 1, a trial space laboratory module, and the two male and one female astronauts will carry out various experiments and test the module's systems.
They will also give a lecture to students back on earth, Wu said.
China is still far from catching up with the established space superpowers, the United States and Russia.
But the Shenzhou 10 mission will be the latest show of China's growing prowess in space and comes while budget restraints and shifting priorities have held back U.S. manned space launches.
It will be China's fifth manned space mission since 2003.
China also plans an unmanned moon landing and deployment of a moon rover. Scientists have raised the possibility of sending a man to the moon, but not before 2020.
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