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Shenzhou XVIII astronauts enter space station
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Shenzhou XVIII astronauts enter space station
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Apr 26, 2024

The Shenzhou XVIII manned spaceship's three astronauts successfully entered China's space station early on Friday.

Later, the two groups of astronaut crew members will conduct an on-orbit rotation at the space station.

During this period, six astronauts will work and live together at the space station for about five days to complete all scheduled tasks, according to the China Manned Space Agency. The journey to the Tiangong space station took approximately seven hours, with the crew expected to assume their duties shortly after arrival. This mission marks the transition from the Shenzhou 17 crew, who are currently stationed at Tiangong and are scheduled to return to Earth in their own spacecraft on April 30.

During their six-month stay, the Shenzhou 18 crew will undertake a range of tasks aimed at maintaining and enhancing the functionality of the space station. This includes conducting extravehicular activities (spacewalks) and overseeing repairs and maintenance tasks. Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA), outlined the mission objectives, stating that the astronauts will perform six cargo outbound deliveries via the station's cargo airlock module and undertake two to three extravehicular activities.

Key tasks during the extravehicular activities will include installing space debris protection reinforcements for extravehicular piping, cables, and critical equipment. Additionally, the crew will conduct inspections to further enhance the safety and operational efficiency of the space station.

The launch of Shenzhou 18 represents a significant milestone in China's ambitious space exploration program. The Tiangong space station, initiated by the China Manned Space Agency in April 2021, aims to be operational for the next decade, facilitating scientific research and international collaboration in space.

Reflecting on the completion of the China Space Station, Ye Guangfu expressed optimism about the future of China's aerospace endeavors, emphasizing their contribution to global cooperation in space exploration.

In addition to the immediate mission to Tiangong, the China Manned Space Engineering Office provided insights into the country's broader lunar exploration ambitions. China remains on track to achieve crewed lunar missions by 2030, with significant progress reported in the development of key components such as the Long March 10 rocket, the Mengzhou crew spacecraft, the lunar lander Lanyue, and lunar landing suits.

China's lunar program is part of a larger initiative to establish a sustained human presence on the moon under the International Lunar Research Station framework. This ambitious endeavor aligns with China's commitment to advancing scientific discovery and international collaboration in space exploration.

While China progresses with its lunar aspirations, other nations, notably the United States, are also pursuing lunar exploration initiatives. Despite delays, such as those encountered by the Artemis 3 mission, international efforts continue to converge towards unlocking the mysteries of the lunar surface and expanding humanity's presence beyond Earth.

As the Shenzhou 18 crew settles into their mission aboard the Tiangong space station, the world watches with anticipation as China's space exploration endeavors enter a new phase of discovery and collaboration.

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

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Flight equipment for China's manned moon mission progresses: CMSA
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Apr 25, 2024
The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) is progressing with its planned development of systems for its upcoming lunar landing, as stated by Lin Xiqiang, the deputy director of CMSA, during a recent press conference. The essential development phases for significant components like the Long March-10 rocket, the manned spacecraft Mengzhou, the lunar lander Lanyue, and the astronaut lunar suit have been completed. Currently, these components are undergoing prototype production and testing phases, Lin exp ... read more

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