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Last Updated: Monday, 10 October 2005, 13:16 GMT 14:16 UK
Chinese astronauts await mission
Launch of Shenzhou V,  October 2003
China successfully launched Shenzhou V into space in 2003
Six astronauts hoping to be chosen to take part in China's second manned space mission have arrived at the launch site in Inner Mongolia.

Only two will actually get the chance to go on the five-day mission, which is expected to launch this week.

Chinese newspapers speculated that the two chosen astronauts would be Zhai Zhigang and Nie Haisheng.

The final selection is reportedly based on a gruelling round of medical and psychological tests.

The launch of Shenzhou VI has been shrouded in secrecy, and is subject to weather conditions, but unconfirmed reports say lift-off could take place on Wednesday or Thursday.

Whoever is chosen to pilot the flight can expect to rocket to fame.

China's first manned space mission, two years ago this week, made astronaut Yang Liwei a national hero.

The Communist authorities attach enormous national pride to their space programme, which is closely linked to the military.

Chinese officials say they want to land an unmanned probe on the moon by 2010, and also build a space station.

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