‘Playing with the Big Boys’ — China Ready for Human Spaceflight

China appears ready this month to make a stab at becoming the third nation capable of independent launch of humans into Earth orbit. Chinese space officials remain tight-lipped about details of when the flight of a piloted Shenzhou 5 might occur, who’ll be onboard and scope of the overall mission. Meanwhile, rumors abound, seemingly pointing to liftoff of Shenzhou 5 atop a Long March 2F booster sometime between the next few days to two weeks. Sources indicate that the launch vehicle was delivered to China’s Jiuquan Space Center on Aug. 25, with the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft subsequently fitted to the booster.