Three Chinese astronauts are set to visit an experimental orbiting space module this week for 15 days, in the latest step toward a Chinese space station.
If the weather is on their side, a trio Chinese astronauts will lift off on Tuesday, bound for an experimental space station.
Perched atop a Long March 2F rocket, the Shenzhou 10 spacecraft – whose name means "sacred vessel" – is set to transport the three astronauts from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert to the Tiangong 1, a prototype for a much larger space station scheduled to be launched in 2020.
During their 12-days aboard the Tiangong, which means "heavenly palace," the crew will test the module's systems, conduct medical and technical experiments, and, in an unprecedented exercise in public outreach for China's space agency, deliver a weightless lecture to a group of elementary and middle-school students via a live video feed.
If all systems are go on Tuesday, the launch will mark China's fifth manned space mission. The country launched its first crewed spaceflight in October 2003. So far, eight Chinese astronauts have flown into space.