China’s Shenzhou-16 Manned Spacecraft Returns Successfully

At 8:11 on October 31st, Beijing time, the re-entry module of the Shenzhou-16 manned spacecraft successfully landed at the Dongfeng landing site. The three astronauts, Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu, and Guo Haichao from the “Doctor Crew,” are in good physical condition. The manned mission of Shenzhou-16 has achieved complete success.

According to CCTV News on May 29th, three astronauts, Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu, and Gui Haichao, will carry out the Shenzhou-16 manned spaceflight mission.The appearance of the crew of Shenzhou-16 has four major highlights that are surprising.

SEE ALSO: China’s Shenzhou 17 Manned Space Flight Set for Launch Tomorrow at 11:14

Jing Haipeng Becomes the First Astronaut to Go On Four Space Missions

Jing Haipeng appears in the crew of Shenzhou 16, taking on the important role of commander for his fourth space mission. This expedition will set a new record and make him the first Chinese astronaut to embark on a fourth space mission.

According to previous reports, as one of China’s first group of astronauts, Jing Haipeng has successfully completed three manned missions aboard Shenzhou 7, Shenzhou 9, and Shenzhou 11, setting a record. Additionally, Nie Haisheng also holds three “spaceflight” records.

Jing Haipeng’s presence in the crew of Shenzhou 16 signifies that this will be his fourth “spaceflight,” marking a new legend and making him the first astronaut from China to embark on four space missions.

The Third Batch of Astronauts Entered Space for the First Time

According to the Mission List for China’s manned spaceflight in 2023, after the launch of Shenzhou-16 this month, Shenzhou-17 is scheduled to be launched in October. During this period, there is a particularly noteworthy focus, which is that the third batch of Chinese astronauts will step onto the stage of the space station.

Shenzhou-16 crew made their debut, with two new astronauts Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao shining brightly. They are both from the third group of astronauts and belong to the knowledgeable “young generation”.

The First Astronaut Without A Background As A Pilot

According to the introduction, in order to meet the needs of China’s space station project, the third batch of reserve astronauts has added two categories: space flight engineers and payload specialists on top of astronaut pilots. Among them, astronaut pilots and space flight engineers are mainly responsible for directly operating and managing spacecraft, as well as conducting related technical experiments. Payload specialists are mainly responsible for on-orbit operations of space science experimental payloads.

Astronauts are selected from active pilots in the Air Force, aerospace flight engineers are selected from engineering and technical personnel engaged in aerospace engineering and related fields, and payload experts are selected from researchers in the field of manned spaceflight engineering, space science research, and applications. It is reported that a background as a pilot is not required for payload experts.

Shenzhou-16 crew made their debut, and Gui Haichao is a payload specialist. This also means that for the first time there are astronauts from non-pilot backgrounds.

The First Time “One Old with Two New”, the Age Difference Is the Largest among All Previous Crew Combinations

At the press conference of the Shenzhou-16 manned spaceflight mission held on May 29th, Lin Xiqiang, Deputy Director of China Manned Space Engineering Office and spokesperson for the project, introduced that after research and decision by the headquarters, it was planned to launch the Shenzhou-16 manned spacecraft at 9:31 am Beijing time on May 30th. The flight crew consists of astronauts Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhuo, and Guo Hailong, with Jing Haipeng serving as the commander. Astronaut Jing Haipeng has previously participated in the manned spaceflight missions of Shenzhou-7, -9, and -11. Zhu Yangzhuo and Guo Hailong are both flying into space for the first time.

This also means that, for the first time in this mission’s crew, there is a situation of “one senior with two juniors”. Unlike previous crews where all astronauts were from the first and second batches of Chinese astronauts, this time it is the first batch of astronauts leading the third batch on their expedition. Among the crew members, Jing Haipeng was born in the 1960s while Gu Haihao was born in the 1980s, setting a record for the largest age difference within a crew.