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China to launch Shenzhou-13 manned spaceship on Oct. 16



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File photo.

IUQUAN, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Shenzhou-13 manned spaceship will be launched at 12:23 a.m. Saturday (Beijing Time) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, announced the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) on Thursday.

The spaceship will take three astronauts -- Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu -- into space for the construction of China's space station, said Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the CMSA, at a press conference held at the launch center.

The astronauts will stay in space for about six months, the longest ever duration for the Chinese astronauts.

After entering orbit, the spaceship will conduct a fast automated rendezvous and docking with the radial port of the in-orbit space station core module Tianhe, forming a complex with the core module and the cargo crafts Tianzhou-2 and Tianzhou-3. The astronauts aboard Shenzhou-13 will be stationed in the core module for six months, working and living with the same timetable as on Earth, Lin said.

The launch will be carried out with a Long March-2F carrier rocket, which is being filled with propellant, Lin said.