SAWT BEIRUT INTERNATIONAL

| 23 February 2024, Friday |

China to launch first crewed space mission in five years

In its first crewed mission in nearly five years China is planning to send three men into orbit on Thursday,  part of an ambitious goal to complete a space station by the end of next year.

An official at the China Manned Space agency said on Wednesday that China is expected to launch the crewed spacecraft Shenzhou-12 at 9:22 a.m. (0122 GMT) on June 17 in Jiuquan in northwestern Gansu province,.

The astronauts are Nie Haisheng, 56, Liu Boming, 54, and Tang Hongbo, 45, said Ji Qiming, assistant director at the China Manned Space Agency, in a press conference in Jiuquan.

Nie, a native of central Hubei province and a former air force pilot, will lead the mission. He will be the oldest Chinese astronaut to go into space.

The Shenzhou-12 crew is to live on the Tianhe, which means “Harmony of the Heavens”, a cylinder 16.6 m (55 ft) long and 4.2 m (14 ft) in diameter, for three months.

The Shenzhou-12 will be Nie’s third space outing, after the Shenzhou-6 mission in 2005 and the Shenzhou-10 mission in 2013.

It will be Liu’s second mission to space and Tang’s first. Chinese astronauts have had a comparatively low international profile.

U.S. legislation banning NASA from any cooperation with China means Chinese astronauts have not been to the more than two-decade-old International Space Station (ISS), visited by more than 240 men and women of various nationalities.

The ISS may be decommissioned in 2024 if the project does not receive new funding, and China could end up being the operator of the only space station in Earth’s orbit.

“After the completion of the Chinese space station, in the near future, we will see both Chinese and foreign astronauts jointly participate in the flight of the Chinese space station,” said Ji.

    Source:
  • Reuters