State media reports Shenzhou-16 launch to Chinese space station

State media reports Shenzhou-16 launch to Chinese space station.
Image: Reuters

According to state media, China sent three astronauts to its fully operational space station on Tuesday as part of crew rotation, the fifth manned mission to the Chinese space outpost since 2021.

The spacecraft Shenzhou-16, also known as “Divine Vessel,” and its three occupants lifted off atop a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China’s Gobi Desert at 9:31 a.m. (0131 GMT).

The Shenzhou-16 crew will replace the Shenzhou-15 crew, who arrived at the space station in late November.

The three-module space station was completed at the end of last year after 11 crewed and uncrewed missions since April 2021, beginning with the launch of the station’s main living quarters in the first and largest module.

The following module will dock with the current T-shaped space station to form a cross-shaped structure.

Jing Haipeng, 56, commanded the Shenzhou-16 mission as a senior spacecraft pilot from China’s first group of astronaut trainees in the late 1990s. He’d been to space three times before, twice as mission commander.

Jing flew alongside Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao, both 36-year-old members of China’s third group of astronauts. This is Zhu and Gui’s first mission into space.

Former military university professor Zhu will be the mission’s spaceflight engineer, while Beihang University professor Gui will be the mission’s payload specialist, managing science experiments aboard the space station.

This year, Beijing is expected to launch one more crewed mission to the space station.

By the end of 2023, China is expected to launch a space telescope the size of a large bus.

The Xuntian orbital telescope, which means “Surveying the Heavens” in Chinese, will have a field of view 350 times larger than the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched 33 years ago

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Hi, I'm Alex Perez, an experienced writer with a focus on lifestyle and culture news. From food and fashion to travel and entertainment, I love exploring the latest trends and sharing my insights with readers. I also have a strong interest in world news and business, and enjoy covering breaking stories and events.

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