Shenzhou XVII crew to experience a new challenge

2023-10-25 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Tang Hongbo (center), Tang Shengjie (right) and Jiang Xinlin will carry out the Shenzhou XVII spaceflight mission. (Photo provided to

Crew members in the coming Shenzhou XVII mission, China's 12th manned spaceflight, are scheduled to carry out a very challenging task new to any Chinese astronauts.

Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency, said at a news conference on Wednesday morning at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center that the crew members — mission commander Senior Colonel Tang Hongbo, Lieutenant Colonel Tang Shengjie and Lieutenant Colonel Jiang Xinlin — will be launched on Thursday morning from the center to the Tiangong space station.

During their six-month orbital journey, in addition to their routine tasks, there will be a new assignment for Tang's crew — they will perform experimental repairing operations during spacewalks, the officials said.

"We arranged these operations because as the number of space debris keeps rising, it is inevitable for long-working spacecraft to be hit by small and micro debris, and we have found that the solar arrays on the Tiangong have been slightly damaged by debris," Lin said. "Such scenarios have been taken into account when we made plans and the space station is still in good condition. However, to ensure Tiangong's long-term operation and verify our technical capability, we have arranged for the Shenzhou XVII crew to make experimental repairing operations during their extravehicular activities, which will be very challenging."

The official said that if such experimental maneuvers could be successful, they will mark a significant advance in the nation's capability to make and support spacewalks.

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