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Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 17:46
Long March-5B to make maiden space station flight in 2020
By Xinhua
Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 17:46 By Xinhua

This photo taken on Nov 5, 2018 shows a full-size model of the core module of China's space station Tianhe exhibited at the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China) in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong province. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

BEIJING — China's Long March-5B carrier rocket is scheduled to make its maiden flight in the first half of 2020, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO).

The flight will also be the first of China's manned space station mission.

The Long March-5B carrier rocket's maiden flight will also be the first of China's manned space station mission

As a new generation of carrier rocket, the Long March-5B has the largest carrying capacity to low-Earth orbit. It will carry the core capsule and experiment capsules of China's space station.

READ MORE: Tests to start on launch of space station

China's Tiangong Space Station is expected to be completed in 2022. It will mainly comprise the Core Capsule, Experiment Capsule I and Experiment Capsule II, with the aim of building a reliable operating space station and providing long-term support for the onboard astronauts.

The space station project will be implemented in three phases: key technology validation, construction and operation. Six flight missions, including the maiden flight of the Long March-5B rocket and the launch of the test core capsule, have been scheduled in the first phase, and launches of experiment capsules in the second phase.

Each capsule will weigh about 20 tonnes. After a series of tests, the core capsule will be transferred into the flight model phase. The two experiment capsules are ready for final assembly, according to Wednesday's Science and Technology Daily.

The preliminary selection for candidates of astronauts has finished, and the development of space application system has carried on as planned, the paper cited Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space program.

ALSO READ: China preparing for space station missions

The Long March-5B rocket is in production and undergoing tests for engine reliability, according to the paper.

Jiang Wei contributed to the story.

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