China to launch Shenzhou XVI manned spacecraft on Tuesday

By ZHAO LEI at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center | | Updated: 2023-05-29 09:04
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Jing Haipeng (center), Zhu Yangzhu (right) and Gui Haichao will carry out the Shenzhou XVI spaceflight mission. [Photo provided to]

The Shenzhou XVI spacecraft will set out on Tuesday morning to transport three Chinese astronauts to the Tiangong space station, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

It will be the debut flight for China's third generation of astronauts and will become the first time for any Chinese civilian to fly out of Earth.

Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency, said at a news conference on Monday morning at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China that the crew members — mission commander Major General Jing Haipeng, Colonel Zhu Yangzhu and Professor Gui Haichao — are scheduled to ride on board the Shenzhou XVI spaceship that will be lifted by a Long March 2F carrier rocket at 9:31 am Tuesday from the oasis-like Jiuquan center in the barren Gobi Desert.

The Long March 2F rocket would start to be filled with propellants at the service tower on Monday morning, he said.

After the Shenzhou XVI spacecraft enters the orbit, it will activate the rapid rendezvous-docking mode to approach and connect with the radial port on the Tianhe core module, according to the official.

Jing's team will take over the Tiangong space station from their peers in the Shenzhou XV, mission commander Major General Fei Junlong, Senior Colonel Deng Qingming and Senior Colonel Zhang Lu, who arrived on Nov 30. By now, Fei's crew has stayed in orbit for six months.

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