|Chinese astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo wave as they meet members of the media behind a glass wall before the Shenzhou-12 mission to build China's space station, at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China June 16, 2021. (Photo by=REUTERS)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] JIUQUAN, China: As part of an ambitious plan to complete a space station by the end of next year, China will send three men to space in its first crewed mission in nearly five years, including the country's oldest astronaut to go into space, Reuters reported.
China expects to launch the crewed spacecraft Shenzhou-12 at 9.22 am on Thursday (Jun 17) in Jiuquan in northwestern Gansu province, an official at the China Manned Space Agency said on Wednesday. The astronauts are Nie Haisheng, 56, Liu Boming, 54, and Tang Hongbo, 45, Ji Qiming, assistant director at the China Manned Space Agency, told reporters. It will be Liu's second mission to space and Tang's first. The mission will be led by Nie, a native of central Hubei province and a former air force pilot. He will be the oldest Chinese astronaut to go to space.
Meanwhile, Shenzhou-12, meaning "Divine Vessel", will be the third of 11 missions needed to complete China's space station by 2022. China began construction of the space station this year with the launch of Tianhe - the first and largest of the station's three modules - in late April. The Shenzhou-12 crew is to live on the Tianhe, which means "Harmony of the Heavens", a cylinder 16.6m long and 4.2m in diameter, for three months.