A rocket carrying two Chinese astronauts blasted off Wednesday on the country's second manned space mission.
The mission, reportedly due to last up to five days, is a key prestige project for China's communist leaders, who have justified the expense of a manned space program by saying that it will drive economic development. It will be more complicated than the first flight in 2003, which carried one astronaut and lasted just 21-1/2 hours.
Premier Wen Jiabao
visited astronauts Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng before dawn Wednesday in their quarters at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.