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Published: 12:51, June 06, 2022 | Updated: 12:51, June 06, 2022
Six months of tasks ahead
By Zhao Lei
Published:12:51, June 06, 2022 Updated:12:51, June 06, 2022 By Zhao Lei

Shenzhou XIV astronauts have plenty of objectives to complete at space station

Astronauts Cai Xuzhe, Chen Dong and Liu Yang (from left) wave to the command center after entering the Tianhe core module of China's Tiangong space station on Sunday evening. (LI XIN / XINHUA)

The Shenzhou XIV mission crew will embark on a tight schedule that involves a succession of complex operations during their six-month space visit, astronaut Liu Yang said.

Liu, the first Chinese woman in outer space, said at a news conference on Saturday at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China's Gobi Desert, that she and two other astronauts-Chen Dong and Cai Xuzhe-will be very busy during their stay, as they are tasked with monitoring the assembly of the Tiangong space station, which will be altered nine times as various components arrive.

This mission will also mark the first time that Chinese astronauts will celebrate our National Day in space.

Liu Yang, first Chinese woman in outer space and crew member of Shenzhou XIV

The crew arrived at Tiangong on Sunday afternoon.

The two space lab components-Wentian and Mengtian-will be transported to Tiangong's orbit to dock with the Tianhe core module during the astronauts' tenure. The crew will work with ground controllers to carry out the labs' docking and repositioning operations, she said.

Meanwhile, the astronauts will also need to prepare for the arrival of the Shenzhou XV crew and Tianzhou 5 cargo ship near the end of their journey, Liu noted.

"In addition, we will enter the Wentian and Mengtian labs to arrange and take care of the scientific equipment. We will use a new hatch and a new small robotic arm to conduct spacewalks. We will perform a large number of scientific experiments and also offer educational activities for schoolchildren via livestream," she said. "This mission will also mark the first time that Chinese astronauts will celebrate our National Day in space."

Chen, the mission commander, said at the meeting that his crew will make full use of the Tiangong station to conduct sophisticated, cutting-edge experiments and tests to advance science and technology. He said the scientific and technological achievements that will emerge from Tiangong will benefit people worldwide.

In an interview with China Central Television that was broadcast on Saturday, Liu said she had talked to her daughter and son about her six-month trip.

"I explained why their mom needs to take part in this spaceflight and why I will be away from home for half a year. I also told them what they need to do during my mission period. At first, they were not so happy about my leaving, but they finally said later that they understood," she said.

"They told me that they want me to take as many pictures as possible so they can share the beautiful cosmic scenes with their classmates."

Cai, who is on his first spaceflight, told the State broadcaster that he will watch TV shows, listen to music and read some books on his personal devices in his leisure time. He also plans to grow some plants using seeds he'll take to the station.

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