On May 22nd, the Long March 2F Y16 rocket carrying the Shenzhou-16 manned spacecraft mission was transported vertically to the launch area at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, China.
The three astronauts currently in orbit have prepared to welcome the Shenzhou-16 spacecraft. According to plan, after completing handover with the Shenzhou-16 crew, the Shenzhou-15 crew will return to Earth in June this year.
The Shenzhou-16 spacecraft and rocket assembly are being transported vertically to the launch area, with an expected launch date of December 30th.
At that time, the six astronauts from the Shenzhou-15 and Shenzhou-16 missions will rendezvous with the space station, marking China’s second in-orbit crew handover for its space station.
After the Shenzhou-16 spacecraft is in place, the space station will form a structure with three main modules as its backbone, and the combined mass in orbit will exceed 100 tons.
According to the schedule of China’s manned space mission in 2023, after the launch of Shenzhou-16 in May, Shenzhou-17 will also be launched in October this year.