China will send two astronauts on a space mission, Shenzhou 11, late on Sunday(2330 GMT), and 7.30 a.m Monday Beijing time, the state-owned Xinhua news agency said.
The mission will take the country closer to its ambition of setting up a permanent manned space station by 2022.
Astronauts Jing Haipeng, Chen Dong will carry out China’s Shenzhou-11 mission and stay in space lab Tiangong-2 for 30 days.
The 50-year-old Jing will be commander of the mission. And it will be the first spaceflight of 38-year-old Chen and Jing Haipeng’s third.
The Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft will be launched at 7:30 a.m. Oct. 17, 2016 Beijing Time, but it will be 2330 GMT Oct. 16.
President Xi Jinping has called for China to establish itself as a space power, and it has tested anti-satellite missiles, in addition to its civilian aims.
China says its space program is for peaceful purposes, but the U.S. Defense Department has highlighted its increasing capabilities, saying it was pursuing activities aimed to prevent adversaries from using space-based assets in a crisis.
“The astronaut flight group is in good condition, pre-launch preparations are basically ready,” space program official Wu Ping told reporters at a briefing.
After Monday’s launch at 7:30 a.m. (2330 GMT), the astronauts will dock with the Tiangong 2 space laboratory, where they will spend about a month, testing systems and processes for space stays and refueling, and doing scientific experiments.
China launched Tiangong 2, its second experimental space lab, last month