China astronauts braced for walk

The spacecraft is now in a stable, circular orbit

China's three astronauts have spent their first day in orbit preparing for the mission's spacewalk.
A 42-year-old fighter pilot, Zhai Zhigang, is due to carry out the 20-minute manoeuvre at 1630 Beijing Time (0830 GMT) on Saturday.
It will be the first time Chinese yuhangyuan (astronauts) have ventured outside their spacecraft.
Their Shenzhou VII capsule soared into orbit on a Long March II-F rocket from Jiuquan spaceport in north-west China.
The rocket put the Shenzhou capsule in a near-circular orbit more than 300km above the Earth.
Mr Zhai is joined on the mission by two other "yuhangyuan" - Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng.

The astronauts have been training in a water tank

Zhang Jianqi, one of the chief engineers for China's space programme, said keeping three men in the spacecraft, and then sending one outside, would be a "big test".
"This is a big technological leap," he told state-run news agency Xinhua.
"The risks are quite high. Sending up three astronauts is a jump both in quantity and quality."
When Mr Zhai carries out his extra-vehicular activity (EVA), he is expected to wear a Chinese-made spacesuit thought to have cost between £5m and £20m ($10m-$40m).

1958: Base for spaceflights built at Jiuquan, in Gobi desert
April 1970: China launches its first satellite into space
1990-2002: Shenzhou I-IV are launched to develop systems
Oct 2003: The first manned space mission launches on Shenzhou V

Oct 2005: The Shenzhou VI mission takes two men into space
Oct 2007: Chang'e-1 orbiter sent on unmanned mission to the Moon

The yuhanguan will be tethered to the capsule with an umbilical cable. His back-up, Mr Liu, will monitor the activity, presumably to reel the spacewalker back inside if there is an emergency.
Mr Zhai will retrieve an externally mounted experiment and oversee the release of a satellite.
During their 68 hours in orbit, the astronauts will be able to enjoy an unprecedented choice of food. The menu includes spicy chicken with peanuts, shrimps and dry fruits.
"We have tried to make them taste like stir-fried dishes they have on Earth," Chen Bin, who is in charge of food for the astronauts, told state-run news agency Xinhua.
At the end of the mission, the Shenzhou re-entry capsule will target a landing in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
China became only the third nation after the United States and Russia to independently put a man in space when Yang Liwei, another fighter pilot, went into orbit on the Shenzhou V mission in October 2003.
Two years later, Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng completed a five-day flight on Shenzhou VI.
According to the Associated Press, Xinhua posted an article on its website prior to the lift-off that was written as if Shenzhou VII had already been launched into space.