China will send its second manned mission this year to dock with a space module currently orbiting the Earth, as the country continues experiments to set up a Spacelab to rival Russia's Mir station.
China's new manned spacecraft will be launched some time between June and August, a spokesperson for the office of the country's space manned programme said in a statement today.
Three Chinese astronauts will board the Shenzhou-10, which is expected to dock with the orbiting lab module Tiangong-1, the statement said.
The Tiangong-1 was sent into space in September 2011.
It later docked with the Shenzhou-8 unmanned spacecraft in November 2011, and with the Shenzhou-9 manned spacecraft in June, 2012.
Last year China sent its first woman astronaut aboard Shenzhou-9.
China's aims to keep its Spacelab ready by 2020 by which time Mir, being managed by both US and Russian scientists is expected to be scrapped, making it the lone space mission in operation.
After years of testing, the new mission will mark the first formal application of the manned space transportation system, the statement said.
The objectives of the new mission include further assessing the performance of the docking system, the combination's capabilities in supporting life and work, and the abilities of astronauts on the job, according to plans.
During the mission, astronauts will also give science lectures to teenage spectators back on Earth, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.
The general assembly of the Shenzhou-10 has been completed and it is being tested.
All tests have been completed on its carrier rocket and astronauts are being trained according to plan, the statement said.