CHINA / SOCIETY
3 astronauts selected for upcoming Shenzhou-12 space station mission, poised for flight, outside cabin tasks: Yang Liwei
Published: May 30, 2021 02:46 PM
The Long March-7 Y3 rocket, carrying the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft, blasts off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China's Hainan Province, May 29, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)

The Long March-7 Y3 rocket, carrying the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft, blasts off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China's Hainan Province, May 29, 2021.(Photo: Xinhua)


 
The three astronauts who will take the Shenzhou-12 manned spacecraft to China's Tianhe space station core cabin in June are now under Level-2 quarantine, with all related work having entered a final sprint stage, Yang Liwei, director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office and the country's first astronaut revealed.

Yang, who went into space in the Shenzhou-5 craft on October 15, 2003, made the remarks during an interview with state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on Saturday, following the successful launch of the Tianzhou-2 cargo craft earlier in the day. 

According to Yang, the three astronauts of the Shenzhou-12 mission, who were selected from China's first and second batch of astronauts, will stay in space for three months, during which they will conduct tasks including repair and maintenance, appliance switch and scientific operation of payloads.

China selected its first batch of 14 astronauts in the mid-1990s. Since 2003, it has sent six astronauts into space, including astronaut Zhai Zhigang who carried out China's first outer space walk in September 2008.

In 2011, China selected its second batch of astronauts, made up of five men and two women, the first time women being selected as astronauts in China's space mission.

Although there will not be any female astronauts in the upcoming Shenzhou-12 crewed mission, they will basically participate in every following flight mission, Yang disclosed.

The three astronauts will take on command and engineer roles, and all of them possess the capability of working outside the cabin, he said.

With the successful launch of the Tianzhou-2 cargo ship Saturday, China has completed its first two launch missions out of the total 11 of the intensive space station construction phase, scheduled from April 29, 2021 to 2022. Three will be for modules, four for cargo spaceships and four for manned spaceships.

Four flight crews have been selected from the first and second batch of astronauts for the four Shenzhou missions. Astronauts will conduct multiple tasks outside the cabin, carrying out repair and maintenance on the spacecraft, and other construction missions, said Yang. "Astronauts coming out of the cabin will become a new routine, and the duration of such activities will be greatly expanded."

China's space station has also been equipped with robotic arms that can be stretched to 15 meters long, which will also play a vital role in building the space station in orbit, Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space engineering project, said previously.

Astronauts will team up with these robotic arms to make in-orbit space station construction and maintenance possible, Yang noted. 

Global Times 
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