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Last Updated: Friday, 15 July, 2005, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Date set for China space shot
Launch of Shenzhou V, AP
China successfully launched Shenzhou V into space in late 2003
China's second manned space mission - called Shenzhou VI - will launch in early October, a state newspaper has reported.

This time, authorities will send two astronauts into space and they will orbit the Earth for five or six days.

"The manned spacecraft Shenzhou VI will... preferably be launched in early October," Sun Weigang, director of the Space Department of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, told the China Daily.

China's first manned spaceflight two years ago made it the third country able to launch a human into space on its own, along with Russia and the United States.

Former fighter pilot, Yang Liwei, orbited the Earth for 21 1/2 hours in the Shenzhou V capsule before landing in northern China to a hero's welcome.

China's space programme still operates largely in secret. Yang's name was announced only shortly before his flight and the identities of 14 candidates for the next mission, all former air force fighter pilots, have not been released.

China hopes to set up a space station within five years and wants to land an unmanned probe on the moon by 2010.

Officials say they will also launch two scientific and experimental satellites by the end of the year, and a further two satellites in 2006 and 2007.

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