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China launches Shenzhou-16 crewed mission to its space station

On May 30, 2023, the Shenzhou 16 spacecraft and its carrier rocket lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, China.

Kevin Fryer | Getty Images

China launched its Shenzhou-16 spacecraft with a crew of three astronauts on Tuesday, the China Manned Space Agency said in a statement declaring the launch a “complete success”.

The agency said a Long March 2F rocket lifted off the spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert shortly after 9:30 a.m. local time.

The spacecraft is headed to China’s space station and will relieve the Shenzhou-15 crew that have been living there since November.

CMSA said the Shenzhou-16 crew will perform scientific experiments and maintenance on the space station’s equipment.

Tuesday’s launch marked China’s fifth crewed mission to its space station since sending astronauts for the first time in 2021.

In recent years, China has stepped up its efforts in space exploration and research. A CMSA official said China aims to launch a manned mission to the Moon by 2030, according to state media.

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