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China readies Shenzhou 17 for imminent journey to Tiangong Space Station
File image of a Long-March-2F stacked with a Shenzhou manned spacecraft.
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China readies Shenzhou 17 for imminent journey to Tiangong Space Station
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Oct 23, 2023

China is finalizing preparations for the launch of its upcoming manned mission, Shenzhou XVII, which aims to ferry three astronauts to the Tiangong space station. The news of the impending launch was confirmed by China Central Television (CCTV) this past Sunday.

An all-system rehearsal was conducted at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China's northwestern Gobi Desert. The state-run broadcaster reported that all mission-critical systems underwent a comprehensive pre-launch check during this dry run. Although the names of the astronauts participating in the Shenzhou XVII mission have not been released, they were actively involved in the rehearsal, performing all the required liftoff procedures.

The crew aboard the Tiangong space station, currently part of the Shenzhou XVI mission, is ready to welcome their successors. The Shenzhou XVI mission crew consists of Major General Jing Haipeng, the mission commander; Colonel Zhu Yangzhu, the spaceflight engineer; and Professor Gui Haichao, the mission's science payloads specialist. They have been orbiting Earth for nearly five months and are set to return after several days of handover activities with the incoming Shenzhou XVII crew.

The Shenzhou XVII mission, planned to last six months, will mark China's 12th manned spaceflight and the sixth mission to Tiangong. The space station orbits approximately 400 kilometers above Earth and is currently comprised of three main modules: the Tianhe core module and the Wentian and Mengtian science lab modules. Additionally, two spacecraft are docked at the station: the Shenzhou XVI crew ship and the Tianzhou 6 cargo vessel.

Located in Earth's low orbit, the Tiangong space station serves as China's modular space station and is a significant part of its long-term objectives in human spaceflight. The station is frequently resupplied by cargo missions, and the regular rotation of crews is central to China's strategy for maintaining a continuous human presence in space.

While the international community closely watches China's ambitious space program, the nation continues its series of sophisticated space endeavors with Shenzhou XVII marking another milestone. It not only aims to reinforce China's presence in Earth's orbit but also serves as a critical step for future space expeditions, including missions to the Moon and beyond.

All indications point to China's steady progress in the arena of manned spaceflight, underlined by systematic advancements and precise planning. As preparations for the Shenzhou XVII mission approach their final stages, anticipation builds for yet another demonstration of China's capabilities in this ever-evolving frontier.

Related Links
China Manned Space Agency
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com

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