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The Competition Puts Up Another One

China has now launched
twice as many manned spacecraft in the past two and a half years as the US:

China’s second manned spacecraft blasted off from a remote northwestern launch site on Wednesday, just two years after the country joined an elite club of space powers.

Astronauts Fei Junlong, 40, and Nie Haisheng, 41, were handpicked from 14 fighter pilots and had been in the running for China’s first manned space launch in 2003. Their mission is due to last five days.

“There is nothing to worry about,” state television quoted the two as saying before the launch as a light snow fell. “We will accomplish the mission resolutely. See you in Beijing.”

They still have to come back, of course.

Here’s wishing them well in their efforts to build up a state-directed, centrally-planned space program.

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