Shenzhou-16 Space Mission Prepares for Launch to China’s Tiangong Orbital Station
In a groundbreaking event for the Chinese space program, the Shenzhou-16 manned space mission is poised to launch on May 30, as confirmed by Deputy Director of the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), Lin Xiqiang.
The mission will commence at 9:41 a.m. (01:31 GMT), lifting off from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center with three taikonauts on board. This mission represents China’s continued progress in its pursuit of space exploration and scientific advancement.
Watch our Livestream
Experience this monumental occasion firsthand by watching our live stream of the launch preparations and event. Coverage will begin from 6:25 p.m. EDT (2225 GMT), approximately three hours prior to the scheduled lift-off.
Source: YouTube CCTV News Agency
Meet the Crew
The mission is led by Commander Jing Haipeng, an experienced astronaut who has previously participated in the Shenzhou-7, Shenzhou-9, and Shenzhou-11 missions. Accompanying him are Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao, both embarking on their first space mission.
Gui Haichao, a professor at Beihang University and a payload specialist, will make history as the first civilian taikonaut. Prior to this, only members of the Chinese armed forces have embarked on spaceflights. Gui’s primary responsibility will be to operate the payload for scientific experiments in orbit.
Shenzhou-16 is programmed to dock with the core module of Tiangong, China’s first long-term orbital station. Operating in low Earth orbit, between 210 and 280 miles above the Earth’s surface, the Tiangong space station has served as a crucial asset in China’s space capabilities since the launch of its first module, Tianhe, in 2021.
Upon docking, the Shenzhou-16 crew will replace the members of the Shenzhou-15 mission, marking the second crew rotation in the station’s history. The Shenzhou-16 crew is scheduled to remain in orbit for approximately five months, conducting various experiments and operations.
The Beijing Aerospace Flight Control Center, Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, and Xi’an Satellite Control Center, have been diligently working with various tracking stations and Yuanwang tracking vessels, conducting launch rehearsals ahead of the big day.
Dai Xiangjun, a senior engineer at the Xi’an Satellite Control Center, reported to CCTV that both equipment and personnel are ready for the launch of Shenzhou-16. This reassurance signifies the meticulous planning and precise coordination behind this historic mission.
The mission’s launch vehicle, a Long March-2F rocket, has been assembled, hoisted, and tested, and is now in a standby state, ready to take off at a moment’s notice, according to Song Jing, chief designer of the Long March 2F rocket ground system.
China has made provisions for potential emergencies as part of its operation of the Tiangong space station. The Shenzhou and Long March 2F rockets have been prepared to be launched with 8.5 days’ notice, ensuring the safety of the crew and the success of the mission.
Looking ahead, preparations for the Shenzhou 17 mission, scheduled for launch in six months’ time, are already underway. The Long March 2F rocket for this mission is also in a state of readiness at Jiuquan, serving as a testament to China’s relentless pursuit of space exploration.
China’s robust space program is not only limited to scientific advancement but also holds potential for international collaborations and tourism, redefining the realms of possibility and marking a new era in space exploration.
Stay tuned to witness the launch of the Shenzhou-16 mission and the new horizons it promises to unlock in the realm of space exploration and scientific research.