China introduces fresh crew for Tiangong space station - RTHK
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China introduces fresh crew for Tiangong space station

2024-04-24 HKT 12:28
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  • China introduces fresh crew for Tiangong space station
The China Manned Space Agency on Wednesday introduced the crew for the Shenzhou-18 mission, the latest in a programme that aims to send astronauts to the Moon by 2030.

The trio of astronauts will be led by Ye Guangfu, a fighter pilot and veteran astronaut who took part in the Shenzhou-13 mission in 2021.

Ye, along with Li Cong and Li Guangsu are scheduled to blast off at 8.59pm local time on Thursday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. They will relieve the Shenzhou-17 team who are currently on the Tiangong space station.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Jiuquan, Ye said the mission will be a special one.

"It's a very special time and also carries special meaning. During the mission this time in China's space station, we will celebrate China's 75th anniversary of its founding and today is also China's ninth Space Day."

Ye also stressed that China believes in international collaboration when it comes to space exploration.

"For us, we all actually pursue our dream to establish a space station, explore space, and also to make contributions. I believe we'll make great contributions to build a community of shared future for mankind.

"We also sincerely invite our international peers to explore the vast universe together and to create a better future for mankind with joint efforts, and a China space station you can always look up to."

The Tiangong is the crown jewel of Beijing's space programme – which has also landed robotic rovers on Mars and the Moon – and made China the third country to put humans in orbit.

It is constantly crewed by rotating teams of three astronauts.

The new crew will replace the Shenzhou-17 team, who were sent to the station in October, and stay in orbit for six months.

The Shenzhou-17 crew is scheduled to return to Earth on April 30. (Additional reporting by AFP and Xinhua)

China introduces fresh crew for Tiangong space station