Three taikonauts – Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe – will supervise the next phase of construction of China’s first space station during the Shenzhou-14 mission which starts on Sunday, the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) announced at a press conference on Saturday.
Chen Dong, who participated in the Shenzhou-11 mission in 2016, will serve as the commander on Shenzhou-14, according to Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the CMSEO. Accompanying him will be Liu Yang, China’s first female astronaut in space in 2012 on the Shenzhou-9, and first-timer Cai Xuzhe.
DCO Global News
Published on June 4, 2022
By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka
All three astronauts were born after 1975 and selected as members of the country’s second-generation astronauts in May 2010, said the CMSEO.
The Shenzhou-14 spaceship is scheduled to blast off at 10:44 a.m. (BJT) from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China in a Long March-2F Y14 rocket, Lin said.
The Shenzhou-14 manned mission is the second flight (after the Tianzhou-4 cargo craft) and the first manned mission in the construction phase of China’s space station. The three-member crew will live and work in orbit for six months, and welcome two lab modules – Wentian and Mengtian, the Tianzhou-5 cargo spacecraft and the Shenzhou-15 manned spaceship to dock, and rotate with the Shenzhou-15 crew in orbit before returning to Earth in December 2022, Lin added.
PROFILES OF CHEN DONG, LIU YANG AND CAI XUZHE:
Chen Dong, commander of China’s Shenzhou-14 space mission. /CMSEO
Born in December 1978, Chen Dong joined China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force in 1997 as a fighter pilot.
Chen, a member of China’s second-generation astronauts in May 2010, made his space debut in 2016 on the Shenzhou-11 mission as an operator. He set the then record for the longest stay in space by a taikonaut – 33 days.
With that experience, Chen was selected as the commander of the Shenzhou-14 mission and will stay in space for six months this time.
Liu Yang, operator of China’s Shenzhou-14 space mission. /CMSEO
Born in October 1978, 43-year-old Liu Yang made history as China’s first female astronaut in space as a crew member on the Shenzhou-9 mission in 2012.
Liu joined China’s PLA Air Force in 1997 and achieved 1,680 hours of safe flight time there. She was also selected as a member of China’s second-generation astronauts in May 2010.
During the 13-day Shenzhou-9 mission, Liu monitored the docking of the spaceship and China’s first space lab Tiangong-1 and conducted scientific experiments.
Cai Xuzhe, operator of China’s Shenzhou-14 space mission. /CMSEO
Cai Xuzhe, born in May 1976, was selected as member of China’s second-generation astronauts in May 2010.
At present, Cai serves China’s PLA Air Force as a pilot.
The Shenzhou-14 will be the first space mission for Cai. He told CGTN at a Saturday press conference that he had prepared for the mission for 12 years and is looking forward to the trip.
China Space Station Mission 2022
A total of six space flight missions will be carried out in 2022 to complete the construction of China’s space station, forming a T-shaped complex in October.
After the launch of the Tianzhou-4 cargo spaceship in May and the launch of the Shenzhou-14, the Wentian lab module will dock with the Tianhe core module in July and the Mengtian lab module in October. The Tianzhou-5 cargo spacecraft and the Shenzhou-15 manned spacecraft will follow, taking another three astronauts to stay in orbit for six months.
In addition, China also plans to launch its first large Chinese Space Station Telescope (CSST), or Xuntian, meaning “survey to heavens,” in 2023.
By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka
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