“China Launches Shenzhou-16 with Three Taikonauts to Tiangong Space Station”

2023-05-30 02:02:00

Moscow. May 30. INTERFAX.RU – The Chinese manned spacecraft Shenzhou-16 with a crew of three taikonauts launched on Tuesday to China’s national orbital station Tiangong, the launch is broadcast by the China Global Television Network (CGTN).

The spacecraft was launched to the station using the Long March-2F carrier rocket from the launch pad of the Jiuquan Cosmodrome at 09:31 Beijing time (04:31 Moscow time). The crew includes Jing Haipeng, Gui Haichao and Zhu Yangzhu, and they will work at the station for five months.

After entering the orbit, the spacecraft will automatically rendezvous and dock with the base module of the Tianhe station.

For Jing Haipeng, who is acting as commander of the ship, this space flight was the fourth in his career. For the first time, he went into space in September 2008 as part of the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft, as part of that mission, the first spacewalk of a taikonaut, Zhai Zhigang, was carried out. Subsequently, Jing Haipeng participated in the Shenzhou-9 mission to the Tiangong-1 orbital module in 2012 and the Shenzhou-11 mission to the Tiangong-2 orbital module in 2016.

For the other two crew members, the flight was the first in their careers.

To date, four crews of three people each have visited the station. The first crew – Shenzhou-12 – was at the station from June 2021 until September of the same year, the current crew – Shenzhou-15 – arrived at the station in November last year and will leave it in early June.

The current crew of the station includes three people: Fei Junlong (ship commander), Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu. After the arrival of the Shenzhou-16 spacecraft, six people will be at the station for some time, then, having completed the rotation, the Shenzhou-15 crew will return to Earth.

The construction of the Tiangong orbital laboratory began in April 2021 with the launch of the base module of the Tianhe station into orbit.

In 2022, two laboratory modules, Mentian and Wentian, were docked to it on both sides, which are used to conduct scientific research and experiments in weightlessness. The start of full operation and the completion of the construction of the station was announced at the end of last year.

The total weight of the Tiangong station, which is located at an altitude of 400 km, is about 90 tons. It is five times smaller than the International Space Station and is capable of accommodating three crew members on a full-time basis (and up to six when changing crews). The life of the Chinese space station is about 10 years.


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