China to hurl Shenzhou-18 crewed spaceship on Thursday

(MENAFN) On Wednesday, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced the scheduled launch of the Shenzhou-18 crewed spaceship at 8:59 p.m. on Thursday (Beijing Time) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the CMSA, revealed details at a press conference, stating that the spacecraft will carry three astronauts—Ye Guangfu, Li Cong, and Li Guangsu—with Ye serving as the commander for the Shenzhou-18 spaceflight mission.

This mission marks the 32nd flight of China's manned space program and the third manned mission during the application and development stage of China's space station. The crew is expected to remain in orbit for approximately six months, with plans to return to the Dongfeng landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in late October.

Upon entering orbit, the Shenzhou-18 spaceship will swiftly perform an automated rendezvous and docking with the radial port of the space station core module Tianhe within approximately 6.5 hours. This will create a combination of three modules and three spacecraft, according to Lin.

During their time in orbit, the Shenzhou-18 crew will witness the arrival of the Tianzhou-8 cargo craft and the Shenzhou-19 crewed spaceship. Lin emphasized that the space station combination is currently in stable condition with all equipment functioning properly, and quality control measures for both the Shenzhou-18 spaceship and the Long March-2F carrier rocket are under control.

Lin reassured that the Shenzhou-18 crew is in good condition, and ground system facilities are operating stably. All necessary preparations for the launch have been completed, with the Long March-2F carrier rocket set to be filled with propellant soon.

Furthermore, Lin disclosed that the Shenzhou-17 crew is scheduled to return to the Dongfeng landing site on April 30 after completing the handover of in-orbit work to the Shenzhou-18 crew.



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