China to launch Shenzhou-18 crewed spaceship on April 25


The Shenzhou-18 crewed spaceship is scheduled to be launched at 8:59 p.m. Thursday (Beijing Time) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, Xinhua reports citing the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).

The spaceship will carry three astronauts -- Ye Guangfu, Li Cong and Li Guangsu -- to carry out the Shenzhou-18 spaceflight mission, and Ye will be the commander, said Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the CMSA, at a press conference.

Shenzhou-18 is the 32nd flight mission of China's manned space program, and the third manned mission during the application and development stage of China's space station.

The crew will stay in orbit for about six months, and they are scheduled to return to the Dongfeng landing site in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in late October this year.

The launch will use a Long March-2F carrier rocket, which will be filled with propellant soon, Lin said.

The Shenzhou-17 crew is scheduled to return to the Dongfeng landing site on April 30 after completing the in-orbit work handover to the Shenzhou-18 crew, Lin added.