China sends its first woman into space

4:43 AM, Jun 18, 2012   |    comments
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(AP) JIUQUAN, China - China has launched its most ambitious space mission yet in which its first female astronaut and two male colleagues are to attempt to dock with an orbiting module.

The Shenzhou 9 capsule lifted off as scheduled at 6:37 p.m. (1237 GMT) on Saturday evening from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

Female astronaut Liu Yang, 33, and two male crew members - veteran astronaut Jing Haipeng and newcomer Liu Wang - are to dock the spacecraft with a prototype space lab launched last year in a key step toward building a permanent space station.

They are to work there for about a week.

China first launched a man into space in 2003 followed by a two-man mission in 2005 and a three-man trip in 2008.

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