China plans launch of a new manned spaceship in 2013, state media reports


A Long March 2F rocket carrying the country's first space laboratory module Tiangong-1 lifts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on September 29, 2011 in Jiuquan, Gansu province of China. The unmanned Tiangong-1 will stay in orbit for two years and dock with China's Shenzhou-8, -9 and -10 spacecraft for China's eventual goal of establishing a manned space station around 2020.


Lintao Zhang

China has announced plans to launch a manned spaceship in June 2013, state media reported Saturday. 

Niu Hongguang, deputy commander-in-chief of China's manned space program, said that the Shenzhou 10 would follow in the Shenzhou 9 mission's footsteps, which includes a three-person crew that plans to enter the Tiangong 1 space lab, Xinhua reported

Niu was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the 18th Communist Party Congress, and said that the space program had a back-up launch date of July or August 2013. 

"The success of this mission might enable China to construct a space lab and a space station," Niu said.

More from GlobalPost: Shenzhou-9: China to make manned space flight mid-June

In its last formal report on its space program, China indicated it was working towards landing an astronaut on the moon, though they did not indicate what their time-frame was, Agence France Presse reported.

The United States is the only country to land a man on the moon, according to AFP. 

There have also been talks about China joining the International Space Station mission, "but this is considered unlikely given political tensions between Beijing and Washington," BBC News reported