Today, November 29, as planned, the launch of the Shenzhou-15 manned spacecraft with three taikonauts on board took place. The spacecraft launched from the Jiuquan Cosmodrome in Gansu province in northwest China at 23:08 Beijing time (18:08 Moscow time). About ten minutes after the launch, Shenzhou-15 separated from the Long March-2F launch vehicle and entered its intended orbit. The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) said the crew members were in good shape and the launch was successful.
The Shenzhou-15 crew included three cosmonauts: 57-year-old Fei Junlong – commander, 56-year-old Deng Qingming and 46-year-old Zhang Lu. For Fei Junlong, this is the second flight into space: in 2005 he was the commander of the Shenzhou-6 manned spacecraft and spent almost 5 days in orbit, the rest of the crew members are flying into space for the first time. The taikonauts will arrive at Tiangong and relieve the crew of the Shenzhou-14 mission, which has been working there since June of this year. Thus, the first rotation of the crew in the history of the Chinese orbital station will be made. The newly arrived cosmonauts will stay on it until May next year.
The crew of the Shenzhou-15 mission is expected to conduct tests related to the long stay at the station in its three-module configuration. Recall that “Mengtian” – the third and last of the large modules “Tiangong” – was sent to the station about a month ago, October 31st. A November 3 station accepted its final T-shape and now consists of the Tianhe base module, Wentian and Mengtian laboratory modules. Also, the taikonauts will conduct more than 40 experiments in the field of space science, space medicine and space technology and will go out into open space several times to carry out extravehicular work. As part of the Shenzhou-15 mission, the last stage of the construction of the Chinese orbital station will be completed and the next stage will start, including its use and development.