China’s Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship successfully docks with space station combination

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30th May 2023 – (Beijing) China’s space program achieved a major milestone on Tuesday as the Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship successfully docked with the space station combination. The mission marks 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 initiated.

The Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship, carrying three astronauts, blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket. The spacecraft separated from the rocket and entered its designated orbit about 10 minutes after the launch.

According to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), the crew members are in good shape, and the launch is a complete success. The Shenzhou-16 astronauts will conduct large-scale in-orbit tests and experiments in various fields, including the study of novel quantum phenomena, high-precision space time-frequency systems, the verification of general relativity, and the origin of life.

The crew, comprising 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.

The successful launch also marks the 475th flight mission of the Long March carrier rocket series, a testamentto China’s technological advancements in space exploration and its commitment to expanding its space program.

The space station combination is now in orbit and ready for the rendezvous-and-docking of Shenzhou-16 and its crew. The astronauts will spend the next five months in space, conducting various experiments and tests while stationed at the space station.

This successful mission is a significant step forward for China’s space program, which has been rapidly expanding in recent years. In 2019, the country became the first to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon, and it has also launched a number of satellites and probes for remote sensing, navigation, and scientific research.