Credit: CCTV


China’s 3-person Shenzhou-13 mission has been announced, a Taikonaut team that will stay in space for roughly 6 months, performing new construction tasks on the country’s space station.

The three astronauts are: Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu. This will be the longest ever space mission for Chinese astronauts.

Launch schedule

Shenzhou-13 will be commanded by Zhai Zhigang, who became the first Chinese astronaut to carry out a spacewalk back in 2008.

Credit: GLOBALink/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Wang Yaping became China’s second ever female astronaut as part of the Shenzhou-10 mission in 2013 and will be the first woman to work on the station’s Tianhe core module.

Ye Guangfu is set to make his first spaceflight.

The Shenzhou-13 crewed spaceship will be launched at 12:23 a.m. Saturday (Beijing Time) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

After entering orbit, the spaceship will conduct a fast automated rendezvous and docking with the radial port of the in-orbit space station core module Tianhe, forming a complex with the core module and the cargo crafts Tianzhou-2 and Tianzhou-3.


The upcoming Shenzhou-13 crewed space mission will include two or three extravehicular activities, installation of important devices for mechanical arms as well as various sci-tech experiments and application, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) on Thursday.

The Shenzhou-13 mission is part of a fast-paced series of launches to complete the building of China’s space station Tiangong by the end of 2022.

Credit: CMSA

Credit: GLOBALink/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Shenzhou-12 recap

Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) recapped during a press briefing the previous Shenzhou-12 mission. Its crew carried out a series of space science and technology experiments, and tested key technologies for the construction and operation of the space station, before returning to Earth safely on September 17.

“Shenzhou-12 mission achieved many firsts: the first time that Chinese astronauts stationed into Chinese space station; the first time that astronauts stayed on orbit for three months; the first autonomous rendezvous and docking which shortened the duration from two days to 6.5 hours; the first time that the astronauts conducted extravehicular activities supported by the robotic arm; the first time that an orbit regenerative life support technology has been demonstrated systematically and comprehensively,” said Lin.

“The other firsts achieved include the first dynamic on-orbit supplies management; the first flight of a combination of three spacecraft; the first onsite emergency rescue standby for human spacecraft and human launch vehicle, which demonstrated the strategy of backup enroll; the first astronauts search and recovery mission at Dongfeng landing site; the first realization of centralized plus distributed flight control support mode for longer term flight missions by six supporter centers including operation and planning center, crew support center and spacecraft on orbit support center,” Lin said.

Credit: GLOBALink/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Decisive, final battle

“The Shenzhou-13 mission is a decisive and final battle for the verification of key technologies of the space station,” Lin said, “as well as a critical threshold to the next phase of construction. The function and performance of each system to perform the space station mission, as well as the compatibility and coordination among the systems, will be assessed more comprehensively during the Shenzhou-13 mission.”

Lin added that the Shenzhou-13 astronauts will stay in orbit for six months for the first time, which will be the normal duration period of the astronauts during the operation of the space station. Furthermore, astronaut Wang Yaping will be the first female astronaut of China to conduct extravehicular activities.

China’s space station is projected to be completed in late 2022.
Credit: CAST

Pre-launch preparations

The Shenzhou-13 launch will be carried out with a Long March-2F carrier rocket, and all pre-launch preparations are basically completed, said Lin.

“At present, the Tianhe core module, Tianzhou-2 and Tianzhou-3 cargo ship assembly is in good working status with all equipment functioning well, ready for the rendezvous and docking as well as for the astronauts to move in,” Lin said. “All systems conducting the Shenzhou-13 mission has undergone tests and comprehensive rehearsal. The flight crew is in good condition and all pre-launch preparations are in order.”

Go to these newly issued videos detailing the mission and training activities:

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