Shenzhou 15 will carry three taikonauts to China’s space station

(ORDO NEWS) — Three taikonauts will travel to the Chinese space station on Tuesday to complete its construction, the Chinese government said on Monday.

According to the China National Space Administration, the crew includes one experienced taikonaut and two newcomers.

The Shenzhou-15 mission will take off from the Jiuquan Space Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert on Tuesday evening. The Long March-2F launch vehicle will be used to launch into space.

The six-month mission will be the last of China’s space station construction phase, agency spokesman Ji Qiming told reporters on Monday.

The astronauts will briefly cross paths aboard the Tiangong with the previous crew, who arrived in early June for a six-month stay on the station.

The Tiangong has room to accommodate six astronauts at the same time, and the handover will take about a week.

Previous flights to the space station took about 13 hours from launch to docking.

China plans to launch the Xuntian Space Telescope next year, which, although not part of Tiangong, will orbit in series with the station and may occasionally dock with it for maintenance.

With a service life of 10 to 15 years, Tiangong could one day be the only operating space station if the ISS sticks to its 30-year operating plan.

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