Monday, September 22, 2008

Commander: ground team ready for Shenzhou-7 spacecraft launch

The chief engineer of the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft launch said the ground work for the mission has been completed and the team was confident of a successful lift-off.

A total of 6,000 staff on the ground team had spent months improving infrastructure and testing the functions of computers and software, said Cui Jijun, commander-in-chief of the ground operation team.

"The launch site has undergone an overhaul since last year to make sure it is safe and reliable," he told Xinhua on Monday.

Equipment like flow meters of rocket propellant, cranes and conveyor belts were replaced. Data files were created to simulate the countdown and launch phases. Plans for about 239 emergency scenarios have been drawn up.

"Judging from the preparations so far, we are confident that we will accomplish the launch successfully," said Cui.

The Shenzhou-7 is scheduled for a lift off sometime from Sept. 25 and 30 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gansu Province. The vessel, which is attached to the Long-March II-F carrier rocket, was moved to the launch pad on Saturday.

Six astronauts, including three selected crew and three substitutes, have arrived at the launch center. One of the trio will conduct a spacewalk during the mission.


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