Shenzhou XVI crew members Zhu Yangzhu (right) and Gui Haichao take part in underwater training on March 29. (Photo: Xu Bu / for China Daily)
Jing Haipeng, commander of the Shenzhou XVI spaceflight, said on Monday that his crew is ready and confident to make their coming mission a full success.
"We will be the first crew to live and work inside the Tiangong space station since it entered the application and development phase. My crew consists of a spacecraft pilot, a spaceflight engineer and a science payload specialist. This means that we are going to face heavier, more difficult tasks," Jing said at a briefing with reporters a day ahead of the launch of the mission at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China's Gobi Desert.
He and his fellow astronauts — Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao — spent a lot of time and energy during their training improving their skills in terms of space station control and analysis, decision-making and response capabilities.
"We discussed and made detailed plans for scientific experiments, spacewalks, maintenance and repair work, health management, and especially emergency response procedures, because we all know that only after we have trained to reach the best of our skills and capabilities, could we handle any possible risks or emergencies," Jing said.
Despite Jing being 20 years older than his two fellow crew members, he said there is no generation gap between them. He described his two young peers as "energetic, diligent and self-motivated".
"We respect each other, learn from each other, and encourage and support each other. We are working toward the same goal," Jing said, noting that the crew members work harmoniously together.
Zhu, the spaceflight engineer on the Shenzhou XVI mission, said that he looks forward to his first space journey and will strive to accustom himself to the space environment as soon as possible.
"I will use my energy, enthusiasm and expertise to maintain the good condition of all equipment and make the best use of each scientific experiment to produce as many scientific and technological achievement as possible," he said.
Jing added that his crew will take paintings by children from 10 African nations — Algeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Nigeria, Somalia, South Africa and Zimbabwe — to the Tiangong space station and display them. Those children are among the winners of a Chinese spaceflight-themed picture contest for youngsters around the world.
"The exploration of the universe is a shared aspiration of all people on this planet no matter where you come from, which race you belong to or how old you are. We will take the best of the children's memories, friendship and dreams to outer space. We will plant the seeds of science, friendship and dreams in our space station and wait for them to grow, blossom and bear fruit," he said, encouraging all children around the world to follow their dreams.