In this photo distributed by the official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, the Shenzhou 7 manned space craft launches from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu province on Thursday Sept. 25, 2008. (AP Photo/Xinhua, Li Gang)
CNN- China plans to launch a manned spacecraft this month to dock with a space lab that has been orbiting the Earth since September, state media reported Saturday.
The Shenzhou-9 was moved to a launch platform Saturday to allow scientists to conduct tests before the mid-June flight, Xinhua news agency reported.
This will be China's first crew expedition involving manual docking. If all goes as planned, it will be the third nation, next to the U.S. and Russia, to dock capsules in space.
"It demonstrates China's continued commitment to becoming a first-class space power with an independent space capability," Taylor Fravel, associate professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said this year when China announced its plans.
"This is very exclusive club."