TOKYO, May 30 (KUNA) -- China on Tuesday launched the Shenzhou-16 manned spaceship, sending three astronauts to its space station combination for a five-month mission, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
The spaceship, atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket, blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 9:31 a.m. (0131 GMT), the China Manned Space Agency said. About 10 minutes after the launch, Shenzhou-16 separated from the rocket and entered its designated orbit.
After entering orbit, the spaceship will make a fast, automated rendezvous and docking with the space station combination.
The Shenzhou-16 crew will rotate with the Shenzhou-15 crew in orbit, the report said, adding that the three male astronauts will conduct large-scale in-orbit tests and experiments in various fields as planned.
They are expected to make high-level scientific achievements in the study of novel quantum phenomena, high-precision space time-frequency systems, the verification of general relativity, and the origin of life.
The crew will witness the dockings of the Tianzhou-5 cargo craft and the Shenzhou-17 manned spaceship, as well as the departures of the Shenzhou-15 manned spaceship and Tianzhou-5.
It is the first crewed mission for the application and development stage of China's space station, and the 29th flight mission since the country's manned space program was approved and initiated. China launched its first manned space mission in 2003. (end)