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Friday, 25 January 2008

China May Broadcast First Spacewalk Live

Future flights of China's Shenzhou spaceship will include space walks - a prelude to rendezvous and docking in Earth orbit.

This photo released by China's Xinhua News Agency shows Chinese astronauts Fei Junlong, left, and Nie Haisheng sit beside the re-entry capsule of China's second manned spacecraft, Shenzhou 6, after landing in Siziwang Banner County, north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Monday, Oct. 17, 2005.

BEIJING (AP) - China's space program is considering a live broadcast of the first spacewalk by a Chinese astronaut, reflecting growing confidence in the program's capabilities, state media reported Friday.

The first spacewalk is scheduled to take place after the Beijing Summer Olympics in August during the country's third manned mission.

Yuan Jie, president of Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology, was quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency as saying a live broadcast was being considered but no decision had been made.

"The Shenzhou 7 spacecraft is capable of live broadcasting the walk, but it has not been decided if the spacewalk will be broadcast in a live or recorded version,'" Xinhua quoted Yuan as saying.

China's space program is the focus of immense national pride, and officials have announced ever more ambitious plans to explore the moon and build a space station since the program first put a man into orbit in 2003.

China sent an unmanned space ship to orbit the moon last year, the first step in a three-stage lunar exploration project. A manned lunar voyage is planned for sometime after 2017.

While live images of previous missions have been beamed to schools and viewers across China, broadcasts are usually pre-taped to guard against mishaps.

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