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China sends 3 astronauts into orbit


Beijing, Jun 11 (EFE).- The Shenzhou X spacecraft was put into orbit Tuesday by a rocket launched from the Jiuquan Space Launch Center in Gansu province, marking China's fifth manned space mission.

Astronauts Wang Yaping, Zhang Xiaoguang and Nie Haisheng were launched into orbit around 5:38 p.m. as President Xi Jinping looked on at Jiuquan, while other high-level Chinese Communist Party officials monitored the mission from the aerospace control center in Beijing.

Wang is the second female Chinese astronaut to travel in space, while Nie is the first astronaut from the Asian country to return to space.

Nie was a member of the crew of Shenzhou VI in 2005.

The capsule carrying the three astronauts separated from the booster about five minutes after liftoff and entered orbit, deploying the solar panels that will provide the energy needed during the 15-day mission.

State-owned CCTV broadcast live images of the cabin and showed the astronauts giving a military salute to demonstrate that the mission was proceeding as planned.

The mission is part of a series of flights planned by China as part of the development of an international space station by 2020.

Shenzhou X is scheduled to dock with the Tiangong I orbital laboratory so the astronauts can conduct experiments and practice repairs.

The 33-year-old Wang will give a physics lesson from space to elementary and high school students in China.