China's Shenzhou-7 ready for launch
JIUQUAN, Gansu, Sept. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Shenzhou-7 manned spaceship, the Long-March II-F rocket and the escape tower were vertically transferred to the launch pad at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday, marking the final stage of the preparation.
The 58.3-meter-high body was transferred to the launch pad on a 1,500-meter-long heavy rail line. The transfer lasted more than one hour and two check-ups were conducted.
More than 20 meteorological workers were monitoring the process as the transfer must be conducted with the wind speed under 10 meters per second.
The manned spacecraft Shenzhou-7 would be launched at an appropriate time between Sept. 25 and 30 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gansu Province.
The Long-March II-F rocket, developed in 1992, is said to be the most complicated and reliable carrier rocket in China's aviation history with all its launch mission successfully finished. So far the rocket had sent two manned spacecraft and four unmanned into space.
Since October 1996, the Long-March series rockets have successfully launched for 108 times. The Shenzhou-7 project will be its 109th mission.
Earlier reports said when Shenzhou-7 enters its orbit, one of the three aeronauts would conduct a space walk and cameras would be mounted outside and inside of the ship for live broadcast of the walk.
While the last mission of Shenzhou-6, with a crew of two, was aimed at multiple days of manned flight, this time the task might be more stringent as one of its main goals was the space walk.
China successfully put two manned spacecraft into orbit in 2003 and 2005, respectively, becoming the third country to send an astronaut into space after the United States and the Soviet Union.