Chinese astronauts are currently training in manual space docking techniques and receiving physical training to prepare for next year's missions of the country's manned space program, its chief designer and China's first astronaut said on Wednesday.
Zhou Jianping said at the second manned space flight academic conference in Changsha, capital of central China's Hunan Province, that preparations for missions following Shenzhou-9, launched in June, were steaming ahead.
China plans to send astronauts again to the Tiangong-1 target module to live and work so as to "further verify the technologies safeguarding astronauts' lives in space, mankind's working capabilities in space and some key technologies for China's planned space station," Zhou said.
Tiangong-1 was sent into space in September 2011. It docked with the Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft last November and Shenzhou-9 in June this year, verifying China's space docking maneuvers.
China plans to build its own space station around 2020. The "China-style space station," Zhou said, will aim to engage in space exploration and scientific research.
"Our goal is to build an international-level space station that meets the demands of scientific experiments and technological tests," he told the conference.
Yang Liwei, deputy director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office and China's first astronaut aboard the Shenzhou-5 spacecraft in 2005, said the manual space docking technology, which was first tested in Shenzhou-9 paved the way for future missions, and those astronauts currently undergoing intensified training are mostly veteran spacemen.
More than 200 academics, scholars, engineers and specialists in space-related sectors attended the three-day biennial conference in Changsha.