China unveils Shenzhou-16 crew, with diverse types of taikonauts to space station

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Xinhua,Jiuquan, May30: Chinese taikonauts Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu, and Gui Haichao will carry out the Shenzhou-16 spaceflight mission, and Jing will be the commander, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced at a press conference on Monday.

Jing, a senior spacecraft pilot, will become the country's first taikonaut to go into space for the fourth time. He was involved in the Shenzhou-7 mission in 2008 and commanded the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-11 crews in 2012 and 2016, respectively.

Zhu and Gui are set to embark on their first trip to space. Born in 1986, they are members of China's third batch of taikonauts, whose selection was completed by September 2020.

Zhu will serve as a spaceflight engineer in the Shenzhou-16 mission. He will work with commander Jing to control and manage the spacecraft, and conduct technical tests. Gui, a civilian taikonaut and a spectacled professor at Beijing-based Beihang University, will work as a payload expert responsible for the in-orbit operations of science experiment payloads in China's Tiangong space station.

Compared to previous crews, the Shenzhou-16 comprises a diverse trio of male astronauts from different career backgrounds, including aircraft pilot, flight engineer and payload specialist.

"This is the first crewed mission with the participation of three types of taikonauts," Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the CMSA, said at the press conference.

Although the fresh crew has a 20-year age gap, the three have worked together very well. "We have gotten along like a family," said Jing when the trio met the press on Monday. According to the CMSA, among China's third batch of taikonauts, seven are spacecraft pilots, seven are flight engineers and four are payload experts. 

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