Mon. Feb 6th, 2023

Shenzhou-15 marks final of 11 missions since April 2021 in constructing of area stationShenzhou-15 crew to take over from Shenzhou-14 astronauts on area stationChinese area station to be second completely inhabited outpost after NASA-led ISS

BEIJING, Nov 30 (Reuters) – Three Chinese language astronauts arrived on Wednesday at China’s area station for the primary in-orbit crew rotation in Chinese language area historical past, launching operation of the second inhabited outpost in low-Earth orbit after the NASA-led Worldwide Area Station.

The spacecraft Shenzhou-15, or “Divine Vessel”, and its three passengers lifted off atop a Lengthy March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite tv for pc Launch Centre at 11:08 p.m. (1508 GMT) on Tuesday in sub-freezing temperatures within the Gobi Desert in northwest China, in response to state tv.

Shenzhou-15 was the final of 11 missions, together with three earlier crewed missions, wanted to assemble the “Celestial Palace”, because the multi-module station is thought in Chinese language. The primary mission was launched in April 2021.

The spacecraft docked with the station greater than six hours after the launch, and the three Shenzhou-15 astronauts have been greeted with heat hugs from the earlier Shenzhou crew from whom they have been taking on.

The Shenzhou-14 crew, who arrived in early June, will return to Earth after a one-week handover that may set up the station’s capability to quickly maintain six astronauts, one other report for China’s area programme.

The Shenzhou-15 mission provided the nation a uncommon second to rejoice, at a time of widespread unhappiness over China’s zero-COVID insurance policies, whereas its economic system cools amid uncertainties at dwelling and overseas.

“Lengthy stay the motherland!” many Chinese language netizens wrote on social media.

The “Celestial Palace” was the fruits of practically 20 years of Chinese language crewed missions to area. China’s manned area flights started in 2003 when a former fighter pilot, Yang Liwei, was despatched into orbit in a small bronze-coloured capsule, the Shenzhou-5, and have become China’s first man in area and an on the spot hero cheered by hundreds of thousands at dwelling.

The area station was additionally an emblem of China’s rising clout and confidence in its area endeavours and a challenger to the US within the area, after being remoted from the NASA-led ISS and banned by U.S. regulation from any collaboration, direct or oblique, with the American area company.

Astronauts Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu attend a see-off ceremony earlier than the Shenzhou-15 spaceflight mission to construct China’s area station, at Jiuquan Satellite tv for pc Launch Middle, close to Jiuquan, Gansu province, China September 29, 2022. cnsphoto through REUTERS

FUTURE ‘TAIKONAUTS’

Main the Shenzhou-15 mission was Fei Junlong, 57, who hailed from China’s first batch of astronaut trainees within the late Nineties. His earlier go to to area was 17 years in the past as commander of China’s second-ever crewed spaceflight.

Fei was flanked by Deng Qingming, 56, who had skilled for twenty-four years as an astronaut however had by no means been chosen for a mission till Shenzhou-15. They have been joined by former air power pilot Zhang Lu, 46, additionally an area debutant.

The astronauts will stay and work on the T-shaped area outpost for six months.

The following batch of “taikonauts”, coined from the Chinese language phrase for area, to board the station, in 2023, can be picked from the third technology of astronauts with scientific backgrounds. The primary and second batches of astronauts within the Nineties-2000s have been all former air power pilots.

China has began the choice course of for the fourth batch, looking for candidates with doctoral levels in disciplines from biology, physics and chemistry to biomedical engineering and astronomy.

The choice course of has additionally been opened to candidates from Hong Kong and Macau for the primary time.

Through the area station’s operation over the following decade, China is predicted to launch two crewed missions to the orbiting outpost annually.

Resident astronauts are anticipated to conduct greater than 1,000 scientific experiments – from learning how vegetation adapt in area to how fluids behave in microgravity.

Whereas nonetheless in its infancy in contrast with NASA’s applied sciences and expertise, China’s area programme has come far because the mid-Twentieth century, when the nation’s late chief Mao Zedong lamented that China couldn’t even launch a potato into orbit.

Reporting by Ryan Woo and Liangping Gao;
Modifying by Alison Williams, Jonathan Oatis and Gerry Doyle

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Belief Rules.

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