China launched the crewed Shenzhou-17 mission to the Tiangong Space Station on Thursday, Oct. 26, at 3:14 AM UTC. Launched via a Chang Zheng 2F (CZ-2F) rocket, the three crew members set sail for the station over the following hours after liftoff.
The Chinese government has identified the astronauts of the Shenzhou-17 space mission as Jiang Xinlin, Tang Shenjie, and Tang Hongbo. The trinity was photographed at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center before launch on October 25 at 11:14 p.m. ET (October 26 at 11:14 a.m. Beijing time). All three astronauts are Chinese nationals, with Jiang Xinlin and Tang Shenjie being veteran astronauts of the China National Space Agency. The Chinese authorities have praised the three astronauts for their bravery and dedication to the mission. The Shenzhou-17 mission is historic as it is the first to operate on a new type of rocket fuel and the first to use China’s new Tiangong space station. The mission is expected to be a monumental success, and the success of the astronauts will be a milestone in the history of space exploration.
The mission, the sixth of its kind, is expected to last six months. This is the twelfth manned mission for China and the sixth mission to the Tiangong Space Station. The Shenzhou-16 crew of veteran astronaut Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu, and Gui Haichao will return to Earth on October 31. The three astronauts of the Shenzhou-17 mission will perform maintenance tasks, experiments, and installation of scientific payloads. In addition, they will also be responsible for a wide range of tasks and experiments related to space science, Earth observation, and technological experiments. The crew of Shenzhou-17 will dock at the Tiangong Space Station, and the crew of Shenzhou-16 will meet them.
The mission marks the first time China has sent a crewed spacecraft on a long-duration mission to its Tiangong space station.
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