- Associated Press - Friday, February 17, 2012

CHINA (AP) - China says its next space mission will carry three astronauts who will live inside an experimental orbiting module launched last year.

The official Xinhua News Agency said Friday that the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft will be launched aboard its Long March 2F rocket sometime between June and August this year.

The report said the astronauts will manually dock with the Tiangong 1 module and conduct scientific experiments while aboard.

China completed its first such space rendezvous last year when the unmanned Shenzhou 8 docked with the Tiangong 1 by remote control.

China has scheduled two space docking missions for this year and plans to complete a manned space station around 2020, independently of the much larger International Space Station.

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