Shenzhou V and rocket are moved from the assembly building to launch tower Security measures were tightened yesterday at the Jiuquan launch site in the remote Gobi desert as officials made final preparations for China's first manned space mission. Xinhua reported that the Shenzhou V spacecraft and the Long March CZ-2F rocket had been moved from the assembly building to the launch tower. Amid a flurry of speculation, the central government confirmed last Friday it would attempt its first manned space launch 'at a proper time' between Wednesday and Friday, but stopped short of revealing the name of the astronaut who will be behind the controls. The Shenzhou V would orbit Earth 14 times before landing at a 'pre-selected area', and preparatory work for the launch was 'progressing smoothly', Xinhua reported. Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po said the spacecraft would go into orbit roughly 10 minutes after the launch. The Chengdu Evening Post reported yesterday that the Jiuquan Space Centre had been cordoned off and journalists without invitation letters were denied access. Tourists, officials and journalists who were keen to witness the launch had been thronging to the area in recent days, it said. Some hotels which ran out of rooms had to convert meeting rooms into makeshift guest dormitories. Meanwhile, Yuan Jiajun, director-general of China's space programme, said human beings had only just begun to push the frontier of space. 'Our lives today are closely linked with these space activities. And we are seeing just the beginning of it,' Mr Yuan told Xinhua. Zhang Qingwei, deputy chief commander of the manned space flight programme, predicted a resurgence in space exploration. In an interview with Xinhua, Mr Zhang said international manned space exploration would develop in five main directions: establishment of international space stations, space-based flights, a moon base, a manned landing on Mars and space tourism. He predicted the moon would become the first base for mankind outside Earth due to its low gravity, weak magnetic field and resources. He predicted that people would be living on the moon in 20 years. In a sentimental tone, Xinhua reported that more than 500 former space programme workers - including founder Marshal Nie Rongzhen - were buried northeast of the launch site.