Shenzhou-18 is set to launch! 3 astronauts ready, youngest crew to return.

The Launch of Shenzhou-18 Is Imminent! Rocket Ready, Youngest Crew Awaits Return to Earth

The Shenzhou-18 launch is just around the corner! The rocket assembly has been fully moved into the launch area, and according to announcements, the launch site facilities and equipment are in good condition. The plan is to proceed with various functional checks and joint tests before the launch, with the aim to choose an opportunity to implement the launch in the coming days.

However, before the launch of Shenzhou-18, the Shenzhou-17 astronaut crew members Tang Hongbo, Tang Shengjie, and Jiang Xinlin are preparing for their return.

After the in-orbit handover mission is completed, this “youngest astronaut crew in history” will return to Earth.

So, the time is near for China to embark on a new round of manned spaceflight missions. But what tasks did the “youngest astronaut crew in history” carry out on the Chinese space station, and what were their achievements? Let’s go over this step by step, starting with their accomplishments.

What Did the “Youngest Crew in History” Do?

Indeed, since the “youngest crew in history” entered the Chinese space station, they were tasked with carrying out a mission in space lasting about 6 months.

By May, they began the handover phase of their mission. What achievements did the three astronauts of Shenzhou-17 — the “youngest crew in history” — bring about during their mission?

Let’s summarize some of their most significant accomplishments:

First, the “youngest crew in history” conducted two spacewalks. Many people know the reason: the Chinese space station encountered multiple collisions with space debris, which, although they did not affect the stable operation of the station, raised concerns about long-term operations and the technology of spacewalks. Therefore, the team carried out two spacewalks, repairing the space station’s solar wings. In future similar situations, direct repairs can be made without the need for additional verification.

The experience and technical validation gained from these spacewalks were crucial.

Second, they retrieved the first batch of material exposure samples, part of the materials science experiments conducted on the space station. There were a total of 407 exposed materials outside the station, comprising metals and non-metals.

Afterward, the astronauts dismantled and stored them for later return to Earth with the Shenzhou spacecraft, to be handed over to scientists for further ground-based research.

Aside from these experiments, the astronauts also set up a low-temperature storage cabinet and conducted skill training among other tasks. Their mission in space was packed with activities.

In summary, like other astronaut crews, the mission of Shenzhou-17 was rich in objectives and tasks.

Shenzhou-18 Gears Up for Launch! A Historic Moment with 6 Astronauts in Orbit Simultaneously

Indeed, as the “youngest crew in history” prepares to return to Earth, they are ready to welcome the astronauts of Shenzhou-18 on their excursion.

Although the China Manned Space Engineering Office has not yet announced a specific launch time for the Shenzhou-18 mission, the published orbital data suggests a “transparent” launch window. Estimated calculations indicate the mission will be executed between April 25, at 20:49 and 21:29.

The exact timing will have to wait for confirmation from the space authorities, as various factors could induce changes.

This mission marks a historic first for China, as Shenzhou-18 will be the first manned space mission to be conducted in April since the construction of the Chinese space station began. The launch faces significant challenges since April is marked by strong winds and sandstorms in China.

Preparations have been made in advance. The launch site’s system has analyzed meteorological data for the past 30 years to formulate special preventive measures and response strategies.

After the launch, Shenzhou-18 will dock with the Chinese space station, leading to six astronauts simultaneously conducting their mission in orbit. The primary focus for the full crew will be the mission handover, with the swap occurring over several days. According to the space agenda, this period will last about five days, as the astronauts of Shenzhou-17 will be returning to Earth by early May, leaving little margin in the schedule.

The astronauts’ return landing zone will remain the same; the Dongfeng Landing Site continues to be an obvious choice due to its numerous advantages, such as needing only one search and rescue team to cover all mission phases, low construction and maintenance costs, potent search and rescue capabilities, and more.

Furthermore, this landing site has become the norm for ongoing missions, and it is also expected to serve as the landing site for future Chinese manned lunar missions due to its versatility in meeting the needs of a variety of missions.

We eagerly anticipate the safe return of the Shenzhou-17 astronauts, bringing their mission to a successful conclusion.

Shenzhou-18’s 3 Astronauts Confirmed, But Why Keep the Names Confidential?

Certainly, this has left some people puzzled and even a bit frustrated. Yang Liwei, the deputy chief designer of China’s Manned Space Engineering, had earlier announced that the six astronauts for this year’s Shenzhou-18 and Shenzhou-19 missions had been selected and were currently in training.

In addition to the basic training, these astronauts are undergoing specialized preparation focusing on this year’s space station missions, including scientific experiments, maintenance, and assembly tasks.

However, aside from these details, no specific information about the astronauts’ identities was disclosed, which has left many people “angry” as they feel knowing the mission’s progress without names isn’t sufficient.

This secrecy is part of China’s space strategy, where confidentiality is mandatory. Officially, the names are to be announced by the Equipment Development Department’s Manned Space Office following standard procedures, hence those in the know must remain absolutely silent until the time is right.

Even if insiders are aware of the identities, no announcements will be made until just before the mission commencement. It’s highly likely that the names of the Shenzhou-18 astronauts will be made public during this year’s Space Day celebrations.

So, let’s look forward to the announcement and see who will be playing key roles in the upcoming mission. Subsequent to the official announcement, further details will be provided.

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