China's third space launch: countdown begins
China is fastest growing country of the world, anf they are proving it in space also. Astronauts readying for China's next leap into space have arrived at the launch site of the Shenzhou VII craft,official media reported, as enthusiasm grows over the Olympic host nation's next attention-grabbing feat.
China's first manned space flight in 2003 was greeted with triumphant publicity, as was the second in 2005. China is only the third country to put humans in space, after the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Last year, China also sent into orbit its first lunar probe and its longer-term goals include eventually establishing a space station and landing on the moon.
The Shenzhou VII is set to blast off on a Long March rocket later this week for China's third manned spaceflight. It will carry three astronauts, including one aiming to make China's first space walk.
Three candidate astronauts and three back-ups in case of last-minute changes arrived at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the remote northwest on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported. They will be quarantined until the launch, set for Thursday unless bad weather upsets plans.
"The six astronauts in blue training suits got off the plane (at Jiuquan) in vigorous spirit, the national flag dazzling on their chests," the China News Service reported.
They said they were "full of confidence that the Shenzhou VII flight will successfully complete all its tasks".