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China's Shenzhou-18 crewed spaceship to be launched on April 25
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China's Shenzhou-18 crewed spaceship to be launched on April 25

The Shenzhou-18 crewed spaceship is scheduled to be launched at 8:59 p.m. April 25 (Beijing Time) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, announced the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) on April 24.

The spaceship will carry three astronauts -- Ye Guangfu, Li Cong and Li Guangsu -- to carry out the Shenzhou-18 spaceflight mission, and Ye will be the commander, said Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the CMSA, at a press conference.

Shenzhou-18 is the 32nd flight mission of China's manned space program, and the third manned mission during the application and development stage of China's space station.

The crew will stay in orbit for about six months, and they are scheduled to return to the Dongfeng landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in late October this year.

After entering orbit, the Shenzhou-18 spaceship will perform a fast automated rendezvous and docking with the radial port of the space station core module Tianhe in about 6.5 hours, forming a combination of three modules and three spacecraft, Lin said.

During their stay in orbit, the Shenzhou-18 crew will witness the arrival of the Tianzhou-8 cargo craft and Shenzhou-19 crewed spaceship, Lin said.

The space station combination is now in a stable status with all equipment functioning well. Product qualities of the Shenzhou-18 spaceship and the Long March-2F carrier rocket are under control, Lin added.

The Shenzhou-18 crew is in good condition, while the ground system facilities are in stable operation. All preparations for the launch have been completed, Lin said.

The launch will use a Long March-2F carrier rocket, which will be filled with propellant soon.

The Shenzhou-17 crew is scheduled to return to the Dongfeng landing site on April 30 after completing the in-orbit work handover to the Shenzhou-18 crew, he added.

Xinhualiu sha

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