- Associated Press - Saturday, June 9, 2012

BEIJING (AP) - China’s space program says it will launch astronauts this month to dock for the first time with an orbiting experimental module.

A spokesman quoted by the official Xinhua News Agency said Saturday the launch will take place in mid-June. The report said the rocket carrying the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft was moved Saturday to a launch pad in China’s desert northwest.

The spokesman gave no more details but Xinhua said earlier the flight would carry three astronauts who would dock with and live in the Tiangong 1 orbital module.

China’s space program has made steady progress since a 2003 launch that made it only the third nation to put a man in space on its own.

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