China unveils Shenzhou 17 astronauts launching to Tiangong space station tonight (video) | Space

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China has revealed its latest crew of astronauts set for a six-month-long mission to the Tiangong space station.

The identities of the Shenzhou 17 mission commander Tang Hongbo, and crewmates Tang Shengjie and Jiang Xinlin, were unveiled in a press conference at the Jiuquan spaceport in the Gobi Desert on Wednesday (Oct. 25) by the China National Space Administration.

The trio are set to launch aboard Shenzhou 17 spacecraft and a Long March 2F rocket from Jiuquan at 11:14 p.m. EDT tonight  (or 0314 GMT, 11:14 a.m. Beijing Time on Oct. 26).

The three-person astronaut crew of China’s Shenzhou 17 mission,  (from left) Jiang Xinlin, Tang Hongbo and Tang Shengjie, meet the press at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Oct. 25, 2023 in Alxa League, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. Jiang will command the mission. (Image credit: VCG/VCG via Getty Images)

The trio will reach the Tiangong space station 6.5 hours later. They will be greeted by the three Shenzhou 16 astronauts currently working aboard the orbital outpost.

Tang first flew to space aboard Shenzhou 12, which marked the first crewed visit to Tianhe, the first Tiangong module to be launched into orbit. Tang and Jiang are from China’s third selection batch of astronauts and will be making their first trip to space.

Tang, 48, and his crewmates, both in their early thirties, will be the youngest crew to visit Tiangong. Tang will also be the first astronaut to return to Tiangong.

Related: Watch Chinese astronauts light a match on Tiangong station (video)

The Shenzhou 16 crew will hand over control to the incoming astronauts and depart for Earth on Oct. 31. Shenzhou 16 astronauts Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao have been aboard since late…

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