China’s Shenzhou-16 Rocket Takes Astronauts up to Space Station


China’s fifth manned mission to its space station orbiting the Earth took off on Tuesday as Beijing continues its stellar extraterrestrial progress.

The spacecraft, Shenzhou-16, or ‘Divine Vessel’, and its three passengers lifted off atop a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert in northwest China at 9:31am (0131 GMT).

The astronauts on Shenzhou-16 will replace the three-member crew of the Shenzhou-15, who arrived at the space station late in November.

The station, comprising three modules, was completed at the end of last year after 11 crewed and uncrewed missions since April 2021, beginning with the launch of the first and biggest module – the station’s main living quarters.


Also on AF: Elon Musk Reaches China, Meets Foreign Minister Qin Gang


China has already announced plans to expand its permanently inhabited space outpost, with the next module slated to dock with the current T-shaped space station to create a cross-shaped structure.

Leading the Shenzhou-16 mission was Jing Haipeng, 56, a senior spacecraft pilot from China’s first batch of astronaut trainees in the late 1990s. He had travelled to space three times before, including two trips as mission commander.

Jing flew with Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao, both 36 and part of China’s third batch of astronauts. The mission is Zhu’s and Gui’s first spaceflight.

Former military university professor Zhu will serve as spaceflight engineer while Gui, a professor at Beihang University, will serve as the payload specialist on the mission, managing science experiments at the space station.

Beijing is expected to launch one more crewed mission to the orbiting outpost this year. 

Also by the end of 2023, China is due to a launch space telescope the size of a large bus.

Known as Xuntian, or “Surveying the Heavens” in Chinese, the orbital telescope will boast a field of view 350 times wider than that of the Hubble Space Telescope, which was launched 33 years ago.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Sean O’Meara


Read more:

China Plans to Land its First Taikonauts on the Moon by 2030

Japan Plans to Beam Solar Power From Space by 2025 – engadget

South Korea Halts Space Rocket Take-Off Hours Before Launch

China’s Secret Spacecraft Returns to Earth After 9 Months



Sean O'Meara

Sean O'Meara is an Editor at Asia Financial. He has been a newspaper man for more than 30 years, working at local, regional and national titles in the UK as a writer, sub-editor, page designer and print editor. A football, cricket and rugby fan, he has a particular interest in sports finance.

Recent Posts

China’s 1.4bn People Couldn’t Fill Empty Homes: Ex-Official

A former statistics bureau chief has gone public with his negative view of the country’s…

13 hours ago

Philippines Fury Over ‘Floating Barrier’ in South China Sea

Manila has accused China’s coastguard of installing the barrier in a disputed region, pledging to…

14 hours ago

EU Denies China Decoupling Plan But Admits ‘De-Risk’ Aim

The bloc's trade commissioner, on a four-day trip to China, says the EU must protect…

2 days ago

Toyota to Speed Up EV Production, Sets 600,000 Target For 2025

The Japanese auto giant has lagged behind rivals in the electric vehicle race but is…

2 days ago

Fossil Fuel Phase-Out ‘Unrealistic’, China Climate Chief Warns

Beijing’s special climate envoy, Xie Zhenhua, will tell the COP28 climate meeting new energy sources…

2 days ago

Zoo’s Food Plea Highlights China’s Local Debt Crisis – CNN

China’s provincial governments were forced to spend billions on Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy and have…

2 days ago