China will launch the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft between June and August this year, carrying three astronauts to the Tiangong-1 space module, Xinhua reported Friday.
This will be the second space flight--the first to be manned--to Tiangong-1 (literally Heavenly Palace), since it was launched into orbit in September 2011. The unmanned automated Shenzhou-8 (literally Divine Vessel) spacecraft successfully docked at the space module last November.
State media have not reported the length of the mission, but the Chinese astronauts, also known as taikonaunts (derived from Chinese word taikong for outer space), will enter the module to conduct several laboratory experiments before returning to Earth.
Another manned flight is scheduled for later this year with the launch of the Shenzhou-10 spacecraft, concluding the three planned space missions to the module.
The Tiangong-1 module is serving as the prototype for a larger module space station, which the Chinese government intends to launch into orbit by 2020.