Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

China’s next step in the country’s space station assembly program has taken place.

The Shenzhou-13 crewed spaceship atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket has been rolled out to the launching area of Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on October 7th.

Shenzhou-13 and its 3-person crew will be launched in the near future at an appropriate time, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) stated.

The facilities and equipment at the launch site are in good condition, and various pre-launch function checks and joint tests will be carried out as planned, said the CMSA.

Half-a-year mission

Once lofted, the trio of Chinese taikonauts will live and work on the space station core segment, residing there for half-a-year before returning to Earth.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The upcoming flight is one more of a series of launches to complete the building of the new station by late 2022.

Previously, China launched the Tianhe core module, two Tianzhou cargo ships and the piloted, Shenzhou-12 spacecraft to construct the space station.

Launch drill

Prior to the transfer of the Shenzhouo-13/Long March-2F, “we have completed the main work in the technical area, such as the function check of the rocket subsystem, the general check and test of matching, the comprehensive electrical test of the spacecraft, fueling and installing payload fairing to the rocket,” Wu Hua, “00” commander of the Shenzhou-13 manned mission told China Central Television (CCTV).

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“After the rocket-spaceship combo is transferred to the launching area, a series of work will be completed, such as the functional test of the spaceship and rocket, the joint adjustment and joint test with various systems, the on-site confirmation of astronauts and the launch drill of the whole system. We are fully prepared for the launch mission,” Wu said.

Plan-B rescue rocket

Prepped as the first rocket in Chinese space history with both emergency rescue and launch capabilities, the Long March-2F-Y13 rocket has been standing by at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center for months. Given the return of the Shenzhou-12 mission, this rocket no longer needed to be on a “plan-B” rescue capability.

Shenzhou-13 crew will link up with station core module and the Tianzhou cargo ship (left) for 6-month tour-of-duty.

Meanwhile, China’s space tracking ship the Yuanwang-3 set sail on Thursday for the Pacific Ocean from the dock of the China Satellite Maritime Tracking and Controlling Department in east China’s Jiangsu Province for its upcoming maritime monitoring missions.

For a video look at Shenzhou-13 launch preparations, go to these videos by China Media Group(CMG)/China Central Television (CCTV)/China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) at:

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