BEIJING: China is to send its second woman astronaut into orbit on its longest mission yet, space officials said Monday, as the country works towards building a space station.

The Shenzhou-10 - the name means “Divine Vessel” - will be launched on a Long March rocket at 0938 GMT Tuesday, Wu Ping, spokeswoman for China’s manned space programme, told a news conference.

The crew will be in orbit for 15 days, she said, and will include Wang Yaping, the second woman China has sent into space. Beijing sees the multi-billion-dollar space programme as a symbol of its rising global stature, growing technical expertise, and the ruling Communist Party’s success in turning around the fortunes of the once poverty-stricken nation.–afp