China launches Shenzhou VI

by Chris Bergin

China has launched its second manned mission, from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on time at 9am local time.

The mission has been largely shrouded in secrecy in the run up to the launch, which will have two astronauts on board. Live webcasts of the event appeared to have been censored – or at least time-delayed.

The first manned launch from the communist country involved a 21 hour mission, two years ago.

This time, China’s Chief Designer of manned space flight programs, Wang Yongzhi revealed in an interview with state media agency Xinhua that this mission will last for several days.

“They will live and work for several days in orbit,” said Yang. “They will also for the first time carry out scientific experiments in space (in the Orbital module) with human participation in a real sense.”

Xinhua also noted some details of the launch, reporting spacecraft will be sent into an oval orbit with a bank angle of 42.4 degrees, a perigee altitude of 200 km and an apogee altitude of 347 km, and after orbital readjustment, the spacecraft will move into a round orbit.

China’s first man in space – Yang Liwei, who launched on the Shenzhou V two years ago – also noted that the spacecraft has been improved for this launch to make the working and living conditions of its two occupants more comfortable.

Update thread and images:

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