Shenzhou XVII mission heads for space station

By ZHAO LEI in Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center | | Updated: 2023-10-26 11:15
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The rocket carrying the three-member crew of the Shenzhou XVII mission, China's 12th manned spaceflight, lifted off on Thursday morning at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China's Gobi Desert.

Under dazzling sunlight, a 20-story-tall Long March 2F carrier rocket roared to life at the scheduled ignition time of 11:14 am and soon soared into clear skies.

Clad in spacesuits, mission commander Senior Colonel Tang Hongbo, Lieutenant Colonel Tang Shengjie and Lieutenant Colonel Jiang Xinlin are sitting inside the Shenzhou XVII spacecraft on top of the rocket.

They are expected to fly for about six-and-a-half hours until they reach the Tiangong space station, now orbiting about 400 kilometers above Earth, and their spaceship will then connect with the front port of the Tianhe core module, the main body of Tiangong.

The Shenzhou XVII team will then float into the space station to meet their Shenzhou XVI mission peers, who have been in orbit for nearly five months.

Both crews will spend about four days together as the previous team hands over their work to the new team. Tang Hongbo and his crew will then take over Tiangong, and the Shenzhou XVI crew will fly back to Earth.

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