Organized by the Beijing Aerospace Control Center - the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, the Xi'an Satellite Control Center and spacecraft tracking ships simulated all the processes for the spaceflight, the State broadcaster said, adding checks and pre-launch preparations were completed. Astronauts for the Shenzhou XVII mission, whose names have yet to be disclosed, also participated in the rehearsal.
Since they arrived at the Jiuquan center in northwestern China's Gobi Desert, the crew has studied flight documents and practiced spacecraft maneuvers. They are fully prepared for the mission, CCTV reported.
The Long March 2F carrier rocket, which will launch the Shenzhou XVII spacecraft, will start to be injected with propellants in due course, the report said.
The six-month Shenzhou XVII mission will be the nation's 12th manned space mission and the sixth crewed flight to the Tiangong space station.
The Shenzhou XVI crew - commander Major General Jing Haipeng, spaceflight engineer Colonel Zhu Yangzhu and the mission's science payloads specialist Professor Gui Haichao - have been in orbit for nearly five months.
They are expected to return to Earth after several days of handing over to the Shenzhou XVII crew.
Orbiting about 400 kilometers above the ground, Tiangong is one of the largest and most sophisticated spacecraft ever placed in orbit. It consists of three major components, the Tianhe core module and Wentian and Mengtian science lab modules - and is connected to two visiting craft, the Shenzhou XVI crew ship and the Tianzhou 6 cargo ship.
Shenzhou XVII crew to experience a new challenge
Crew members in the coming Shenzhou XVII mission, China's 12th manned spaceflight, are scheduled to carry out a very challenging task new to any Chinese astronauts.
Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency, said at a news conference on Wednesday morning at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center that the crew members - mission commander Senior Colonel Tang Hongbo, Lieutenant Colonel Tang Shengjie and Lieutenant Colonel Jiang Xinlin - will be launched on Thursday morning from the center to the Tiangong space station.
During their six-month orbital journey, in addition to their routine tasks, there will be a new assignment for Tang's crew - they will perform experimental repairing operations during spacewalks, the officials said.
"We arranged these operations because as the number of space debris keeps rising, it is inevitable for long-working spacecraft to be hit by small and micro debris, and we have found that the solar arrays on the Tiangong have been slightly damaged by debris," Lin said.
"Such scenarios have been taken into account when we made plans and the space station is still in good condition. However, to ensure Tiangong's long-term operation and verify our technical capability, we have arranged for the Shenzhou XVII crew to make experimental repairing operations during their extravehicular activities, which will be very challenging."
The official said that if such experimental maneuvers could be successful, they will mark a significant advance in the nation's capability to make and support spacewalks.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
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