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China to launch Shenzhou-15 manned spaceship Tuesday


 |  Beijing

A press conference on the Shenzhou-15 spaceflight mission is held at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China on Monday. (Photo: Xinhua

The Shenzhou-15 crewed spaceship will be launched at 11:08 p.m. Tuesday (Beijing Time) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, announced the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) on Monday.

The spaceship will take three astronauts -- Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming, and Zhang Lu -- to carry out the Shenzhou-15 spaceflight mission. Fei will be the commander, said Ji Qiming, assistant to the director of the CMSA, at a press conference.

The crew will stay in orbit for about six months.

The launch will be carried out with a Long March-2F carrier rocket, which will be filled with propellant soon, Ji said.

According to him, after entering orbit, the Shenzhou-15 spaceship will make a fast, automated rendezvous and dock with the front port of the space station's core module, Tianhe.

The space station will then be expanded to its largest configuration with three modules and three spaceships, having a total mass of nearly 100 tonnes, Ji said.

During their stay in orbit, the Shenzhou-15 crew will witness the arrival of the Tianzhou-6 cargo craft and Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship. They will also have a work handover with the Shenzhou-16 crew in orbit.

The Shenzhou-15 astronauts will return to the ground in May next year according to the plan, he said.

The space station combination is now in a stable status with all equipment functioning well, ready for the rendezvous-and-docking of Shenzhou-15 and the following crew rotation, he added.

The Shenzhou-15 crew is now in good shape. Product qualities of the Shenzhou-15 spaceship and Long March-2F carrier rocket are under control. Facilities and equipment of the ground system are performing well, and all launch preparations are in order.

The Shenzhou-14 crew plans to complete the in-orbit work handover in a week, and then return to the Dongfeng landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. (Xinhua)


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