Shenzhou XIII space mission to begin on Saturday

By ZHAO LEI in Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center | | Updated: 2021-10-14 15:04
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Crew members of the Shenzhou XIII spacecraft meet media at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Oct 14, 2021. [Photo by Zhao Lei/]

The Shenzhou XIII spacecraft is scheduled to be launched at 12:23 am Saturday by a Long March 2F carrier rocket at the Jiuquan center, Lin said. It will transport Major General Zhai Zhigang, the mission commander, Senior Colonel Wang Yaping and Senior Colonel Ye Guangfu to Tiangong's core module Tianhe, or Harmony of Heavens.

Wang is China's second female astronaut to participate in a spaceflight and was a member of the Shenzhou X mission in June 2013. She will become the first Chinese woman to enter the Tiangong space station and conduct a spacewalk, Lin said.

Zhai is the country's first astronaut to take a spacewalk, having done so when he was mission commander during the Shenzhou VII mission in September 2008. Ye will be making his first journey to space on Saturday.

Lin said the Shenzhou XIII crew is tasked with a wide range of tasks, including performing two to three spacewalks to install a small robotic arm onto a larger one; verifying key procedures and technologies such as the manual control of the robotic arms and the robotic arm-assisted movement of station modules; checking the performance and capability of devices inside the station; and testing support instruments for astronauts' lives and work during long-term flights.

He added that they will conduct scientific experiments and technology demonstrations in space medicine, microgravity physics and other fields.

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