China will launch three astronauts this month to dock with an orbiting experimental module, and the crew might include its first female space traveler, a government news agency said Saturday.
A rocket carrying the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft was moved to a launch pad in China's desert northwest on Saturday for the mid-June flight, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing an space program spokesman. The three-member crew will dock with and live in the Tiangong 1 orbital module launched last year, Xinhua said. The government has not said how long the mission will last.
China, the only non-partner of the ISS, plans to see if its
Shenzhou 9/Long March 2F system can get the job done like the Falcon9/Dragon system can. They plan on two missions this year to dock with their Tiangong 1 module launched in September 2011. Their eventual plans include building a full tilt space station by 2020, though one of only about 60 tons, compared to the ISS's 450ish tons.