Currently, at the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, the Long March-2F Y12 rocket carrying the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft will be refueled with propellant this morning. Nie will serve as the commander of the flight crew. Three other astronauts, Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, and Ye Guangfu, make up the backup crew.
The Shenzhou-12 flight mission is the first manned space mission to take place during the construction of China's space station. It has multiple tasks, including technology verification in such areas as astronauts' long-term stay in orbit, space supply replenishment, extravehicular activities and operations, and in-orbit maintenance.
It will also test for the first time the search and rescue of astronauts at the Dongfeng landing site, carry out multidisciplinary space applications and experiments, and comprehensively assess the functions and performance of each system performing the mission to further examine their compatibility and coordination.
As scheduled, the Shenzhou-12 spaceship will, after orbital injection, conduct rendezvous and docking in fast automated mode onto the front port of the Tianhe core module to form a complex with the core module and the Tianzhou-2 cargo ship.
The astronauts will then move into the core module and start working and living with a synchronized work and rest arrangement between space and ground. After staying for about three months in orbit, they will return to the Dongfeng landing site onboard the re-entry capsule.
Currently, the complex of the Tianhe core module and Tianzhou-2 cargo ship is in stable condition with all equipment working normally and ready for rendezvous and docking of astronauts to move in.
"All the pre-launch preparations have also been basically completed," said Ji Qiming, assistant to the director of the office.