China unveils Shenzhou-13 crew for space station mission
Chinese astronauts Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu will carry out the Shenzhou-13 spaceflight mission, and Zhai will be the commander, announced the China Manned Space Agency at a press conference Thursday.
Zhai performed China's first spacewalk in the Shenzhou-7 mission in 2008. Wang, who attended the Shenzhou-10 mission in 2013, will be the first Chinese female astronaut to visit China's space station and carry out extravehicular activities. Ye is a newcomer to space, according to Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the CMSA.
The trio will stay in orbit for six months, which will be a regular duration for following Chinese astronauts to work and live in the space station, Lin said.
He noted that the Shenzhou-13 team has received special training and made full preparation for the upcoming mission.
The Shenzhou-12 crew have shared their three-month experience with the trio, especially on details and skills about extravehicular activities.
The Shenzhou-13 crew received targeted training courses on spacewalks, research projects, rendezvous and docking tests, and transposition docking of the cargo craft captured and guided by the mechanical arm.
They also had drills for a newly-added error mode of the space station complex, including the core module Tianhe, the Shenzhou-13 spaceship, and the two cargo crafts, namely Tianzhou-2 and Tianzhou-3.
It will be physically and psychologically challenging to work and live in a zero-gravity environment for six months, Lin said, adding that the astronauts will have in-orbit exercises and mental health support to help them stay at their best.
The ground team will optimize their menu and provide psychological support based on the monthly assessment of the astronauts' status, said Lin.
The Shenzhou-13 manned spaceship will be launched at 12:23am Saturday (Beijing Time) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.