Shenzhou 10 Capsule Arrives at Launch Site

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The space capsule for China’s Shenzhou 10 mission, which could blast off as early as June with three astronauts aboard, has arrived at the launch site in the country’s northwestern Gansu Province.

It was delivered March 31 to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, the spacecraft’s state-owned manufacturer China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. announced April 1. All four of China’s previous manned spaceflights have launched from Jiuquan.

Still in the factory and undergoing final testing is the Long March 2F rocket slated to carry the astronauts on a mission to rendezvous with the currently unmanned Tiangong 1 space station, the company statement said.

“The launch site facilities and equipment are in good condition,” China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. said in a statement. “All preparation work is being carried out as planned.”

Shenzhou 10 is expected to be a 15-day mission, with astronauts spending 12 days inside the space lab. It is scheduled to be the second and final manned mission to Tiangong 1.

Last June, three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou 9 spent 13 days in space. The mission to the Tiangong 1 featured China’s first manual space station docking and its first woman in space, Liu Yang.

The next woman astronaut is likely to be an army captain named Wang Yaping, the state-run Beijing Times reported April 1. Wang was a candidate last year for Shenzhou 9 but lost out to Liu.