China launches Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship for 5-month intensive tasks in space station
China on Tuesday launched the Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship, sending three astronauts to its space station combination for a five-month mission.
The spaceship, atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket, blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 9:31am (Beijing Time), according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).
About 10 minutes after the launch, Shenzhou-16 separated from the rocket and entered its designated orbit. The crew members are in good shape and the launch is a complete success, the CMSA declared.
After entering orbit, the Shenzhou-16 spaceship will make a fast, automated rendezvous and docking with the space station combination. The Shenzhou-16 crew will rotate with the Shenzhou-15 crew in orbit.
The Shenzhou-16 astronauts will conduct large-scale in-orbit tests and experiments in various fields as planned. They are expected to make high-level scientific achievements in the study of novel quantum phenomena, high-precision space time-frequency systems, the verification of general relativity, and the origin of life.
The crew, consisting of Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao, will witness the dockings of the Tianzhou-5 cargo craft and the Shenzhou-17 manned spaceship, as well as the departures of the Shenzhou-15 manned spaceship and Tianzhou-5.
It is the first crewed mission for the application and development stage of China's space station, and the 29th flight mission since the country's manned space program was approved and initiated.
The launch also marks the 475th flight mission of the Long March carrier rocket series.
The space station combination is now in orbit for the rendezvous and docking. It is in good working condition and ready for the rendezvous-and-docking of Shenzhou-16 and the entering of its crew.