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China Space Flight to Test Cosmic Radiation on Pig Sperm

The Shenzhou VI capsule will carry two astronauts on a mission of four to six days, according to earlier state media reports. It is expected to carry several more scientific experiments, although some Western space analysts believe the main mission of China's Shenzhou space flights is military reconnaissance.

China's next manned space flight will carry sperm from high-quality pigs for attempted genetic modification, in the first animal breeding experiment to be carried in a Chinese space capsule, state media said yesterday.

The Chongqing Academy of Animal Husbandry Science signed a contract with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation to send 40 grams of sperm from the Rongchang breed of pigs on the Shenzhou VI mission, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Perfect Pigs Picked
The agency quoted an official at the academy as saying the sperm would be taken from two "carefully chosen" Rongchang pigs.

Rongchangs are named after a well-known pig-breeding town in southwestern China and are "outstanding in terms of figure and quality," the agency said.

Scientists believe that microgravity and cosmic rays in outer space will cause genetic change in the sperm, it said.

It quoted Wang Jinyong, head of the academy's breeding center, as saying more than two million yuan (US$241,000) had been invested in research and equipment for the tests, which would take about two years to assess after the Shenzhou VI mission, scheduled for early October.

Bacon Only Side Dish
The Shenzhou VI capsule will carry two astronauts on a mission of four to six days, according to earlier state media reports.

It is expected to carry several more scientific experiments, although some Western space analysts believe the main mission of China's Shenzhou space flights is military reconnaissance.

The Shenzhou V mission made China only the third country to launch an astronaut into space, after Russia and the United States.

> Deutsche Presse 07/18/05 7:45 AM PT





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