China prepares to send new crew of 3 to space station

China prepares to send new crew of 3 to space station

BEIJING (AP) — Final preparations were underway Monday to send a new crew of three to China’s space station as it nears completion amid heightened competition with the United States.

China’s Manned Space Agency said the Shenzhou-15 mission will lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert at 11:08 p.m. Tuesday evening.

The six-month mission, commanded by Fei Junlong and staffed by Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu, will be the last “in the construction phase of the Chinese space station”, agency official Ji Qiming told reporters on Monday. .

Fei, 57, is a veteran of the four-day Shenzhou-6 mission in 2005, the second in which China sent a human into space. Deng and Zhang fly in space for the first time.

The station’s third and final module docked with the station earlier this month, one of the final steps in a more than decade-long effort to maintain a constant crewed presence in orbit.

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