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China reveals the 3 astronauts flying on Shenzhou 15 space station mission

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Commander Fei Junling, Zhang Lu (left), and DengQingming (right), at a Shenzhou 15 press conference at Jiuquan Nov. 28, 2022.
(Image credit: Ourspace)

China has just revealed the crew that will launch on Tuesday, Nov. 29, from Shenzhou 15 and stay in space for six months.

Commander Fei Junlong met with crewmates DengQingming, Zhang Lu and Zhang Lu on Monday (Nov. 28, just one day prior to the scheduled launch from Jiuquan in Gobi Desert. China’s human spaceflight agency, CMSA, is run by the country’s military and typically keeps the identity of its crews secret until close to launch.

The launch of Shenzhou 15 on a Long March 2F rocket will take place Tuesday at 10:08 AM EST (1508 GMT; 11 :08 PM local time). Space.com has live coverage. It starts at 6:30 a.m. EST (1130 GMT).

Related: China’s latest space news

China’s Shenzhou 15 spacecraft, and its Long March 2F rocket will be landing on the pad of Jiuquan spaceport in November 2022. The trio will fly to Tiangong’s recently completed space station. They will join the Shenzhou 14 astronauts aboard Tiangong and complete China’s first-ever and highly anticipated crew handover in orbit.

After a 17-year wait, Commander Fei Junlong (57) is now making his return to space. Fei was selected among China’s first batch of astronauts in 1998 and commanded the five-day-long Shenzhou 6 mission in 2005. 

Deng Qingming (56), was also selected to be part of the first generation astronauts, but he has had to wait long enough to fly to space.

“As an astronaut my normal shape is that I stay committed to the original spaceflight mission aspirations and never stop training which is also my attitude,” Deng stated (opens in new window) during the Jiuquan press conference on Nov. 28. 

Deng said, “It is possible for me to spend my whole life being prepared. But I will never allow myself not to be prepared when the task comes up.”

Zhang Lu (46) is also making his first space flight and was part of China’s second astronaut group selected in May 2010. 

Zhang stated, “I look forward to feeling the amazing feeling of zero gravity and to complete our space home with my own hands.”

The Shenzhou 15 crew — all of whom enjoy calligraphy as a hobby, according (opens in new tab) to Chinese media — will spend six months in space conducting a range of experiments and maintaining the space station. 

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Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China’s rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for Space.com in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI (opens in new tab).

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