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China to Send its First Civilian Astronaut into Space on Tuesday



China to Send its First Civilian Astronaut into Space on Tuesday

(CTN News) – Officials have announced that China will send its first civilian astronaut into space on Tuesday as part of a crewed mission to the Tiangong space station.

On Monday, the China Manned Space Agency announced that Gui Haichao, a payload expert, will launch from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Tuesday at 9:31 am local time (01:31 GMT).

All Chinese astronauts sent into space have been members of the People’s Liberation Army.

As a Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics professor, Gui will “mainly be responsible for the on-orbit operation of space science experimental payloads.

According to state media, Jing Haipeng will lead Tuesday’s mission, his fourth trip into space. Zhu Yangzhu will be the third crew member.

China’s Ambitious Space Program Aims to Land Astronauts on the Moon by 2030

After years of belatedly matching milestones with the United States and Russia, China is trying to catch up by 2030 by investing billions in its military-run space program.

Last year, it completed the construction of its third and permanent space station, Tiangong. In November, the final module of the T-shaped Tiangong, whose name means “heavenly palace”, docked successfully with the core structure.

Xinhua reported that the station carries cutting-edge science equipment, including “the world’s first space-based cold atomic clock system ”.

For at least ten years, Tiangong is expected to remain in low Earth orbit between 400 and 450 kilometers (250 and 280 miles) above the planet, achieving a long-term goal of sustaining human presence in space.

China Open to Foreign Collaboration in Space Exploration Efforts

This space station will be continuously manned by rotating teams of three astronauts conducting scientific experiments and testing new technologies.

While China does not intend to use Tiangong for global collaboration on the scale of the International Space Station, it is open to foreign collaboration.

The extent of that cooperation isn’t clear yet.

Since 2011 the US has banned NASA from engaging with Chinese, and China has been effectively excluded from the International Space Station.

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