China to launch three astronauts for its space station; unveils plans for manned Moon mission

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Beijing:China will be sending a three-person crew to its under-construction space station on Tuesday, and also announced plans for a manned mission to the Moon amid intensifying competition with the US.

The Shenzhou-15 crewed spaceship will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced.

The spaceship will take three astronauts — Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming, and Zhang Lu — to carry out the spaceflight mission.

Fei will be the commander of the mission, Ji Qiming, assistant to the director of the CMSA, told the media. The crew will stay in orbit for about six months, a period in which the construction of the low-orbit space station is expected to be completed.

The launch will be carried out with a Long March-2F carrier rocket, which will be filled with propellant soon, Ji said.

After entering the orbit, the Shenzhou-15 spaceship will make a fast, automated rendezvous and dock with the front port of the space station’s core module called Tianhe, Ji said.

During their stay in orbit, the Shenzhou-15 crew will witness the arrival of the Tianzhou-6 cargo craft and Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship.