April 13, 2024
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Beijing, China – In an unprecedented move, China has announced its plans to send a civilian taikonaut into space for the first time. The taikonaut, Gui Hayçao, a professor of aerospace engineering at Beyhang University, will join two other experienced taikonauts, Cing Hayping and Cu Yangcu, on the fifth manned expedition to the Tiengong Space Station.

The China Manned Space Program Agency (CMSA) unveiled the new taikonaut team, who will travel to the Tiengong Space Station aboard the Shincou-16 shuttle. The mission marks a significant milestone for China’s space program, as until now, only taikonauts selected from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force have participated in space missions.

Gui Hayçao’s expertise in space shuttle dynamics and payload has earned him the prestigious role of managing the materials and equipment used for scientific experiments in orbit. As a civilian, Gui’s inclusion in the mission showcases China’s commitment to broadening its space program to include experts from various backgrounds.

Cing Hayping, a seasoned taikonaut who will lead the expedition, brings extensive experience to the team. Having previously served in several missions, including Shincou-7, Shincou-9, and Shincou-11, Cing, 56, holds the rank of major general. He will become the first Chinese taikonaut to venture into space for the fourth time.

Cu Yangcu, the third member of the team, will assume the role of flight engineer and operator. This mission marks Cu’s inaugural space journey, adding fresh perspectives and skills to the mission’s objectives.

The highly anticipated launch of the Shincou-16 shuttle will take place at the Ciucuen Satellite Center in the Gobi Desert. The Long March 2F rocket will carry the taikonauts and propel them into Earth orbit, where they will rendezvous with the Tiengong Space Station.

China’s space ambitions have soared in recent years, with the establishment of the Tiengong Space Station being a crucial step forward. By involving civilian experts like Gui Hayçao, China aims to expand its scientific research capabilities in orbit and further enhance its presence in the global space community.

The upcoming mission represents not only a landmark achievement for China but also a testament to the nation’s dedication to advancing space exploration and fostering international collaboration. As the world awaits the launch, the successful inclusion of a civilian taikonaut will undoubtedly make this mission a pivotal moment in China’s space odyssey.

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