Meet China's youngest astronaut crew for Shenzhou-17 manned mission
Updated 15:57, 26-Oct-2023
CGTN graphics by Yin Yating
CGTN graphics by Yin Yating

CGTN graphics by Yin Yating

Chinese astronauts Tang Hongbo, Tang Shengjie and Jiang Xinlin will carry out the Shenzhou-17 manned spaceflight mission to the China Space Station (CSS), with Tang Hongbo as the commander, the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced at a press conference on Wednesday.

The trio, including the 48-year-old commander Tang and two operators in their early 30s, marks the youngest astronaut crew by average age since the construction of CSS. Commander Tang is the first taikonaut returning to CSS. 

It is also the first time the spaceflight team consists of one veteran from China's second batch of astronauts and two space rookies from the third batch of astronauts. 


The three Shenzhou-17 taikonauts met the press at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Wednesday. 

The Shenzhou-17 crewed spaceship was launched atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket at 11:14 a.m. Thursday (Beijing Time) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

Shenzhou-17 is the 30th flight mission of China's manned space program and the 12th manned mission of the program. The crew will stay in orbit for about six months and rotates with the Shenzhou-16 crew, who are scheduled to return to Earth on October 31.

Check out the Shenzhou-17 mission

CGTN graphics by Yin Yating
CGTN graphics by Yin Yating

CGTN graphics by Yin Yating

Tang Hongbo

Tang Hongbo, born in October 1975, joined the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force in 1995 and was selected to be a member of the second batch of Chinese astronauts in 2010.

He flew to space for the first time in the three-month Shenzhou-12 mission in June 2021, China's first crewed mission for CSS construction. Tang received a third-class medal and the honorary title "heroic astronaut" in November 2021.

Being the first taikonaut returning to CSS, commander Tang set a new record for the shortest interval between two spaceflight missions by Chinese astronauts.

Tang Hongbo was selected as a member of the Shenzhou-17 mission within a year of returning to Earth. To return to the space station, he completed his physical recovery and mental adjustment as quickly as possible and simultaneously underwent training for the new mission.

"I'm solely focused on the mission, on how to accomplish the mission successfully. I have to get prepared every minute, every second, and this was my aspiration when I joined the Air Force, and that aspiration has never changed," said Tang Hongbo at Wednesday's press conference.  


Tang Shengjie

The pilot-turned-astronaut Tang Shengjie is currently the youngest Chinese astronaut to carry out a space mission.

Born in December 1989, the 34-year-old taikonaut served as a first-class pilot in China's Air Force and graduated from China's Aviation University of Air Force in 2012. In his nearly 13 years of service, he flew six aircraft types.

From a young age, Tang Shengjie showed considerable hands-on ability, and he has a particular talent for the professional skills training needed by astronauts. 

Tang Shengjie joined China's third batch of astronauts in September 2020.

Before heading out for his first spaceflight for the Shenzhou-17 mission, Tang told the press, "I feel that I am fully prepared physically, mentally and technically. I am confident to complete this upcoming flight mission. In fact, to be honest, I can't wait to carry out the mission now."

CGTN graphics by Yin Yating
CGTN graphics by Yin Yating

CGTN graphics by Yin Yating

Jiang Xinlin

Born in February 1988, the veteran pilot Jiang Xinlin Jiang was a professional tank driver and fighter pilot before he was selected to be a member of China's third batch of astronauts in September 2020.

During his 10-year flying career, Jiang was recognized as a first-class pilot, with safe flights reaching over 1,000 hours.

The control of a tank on the ground is quite similar to the underwater training for astronauts, as they both require upper-body strength, said Jiang.

Through years of hard work, Jiang became increasingly fascinated with flying and cultivated his dream of soaring higher.

Shenzhou-17 mission is also the 35-year-old taikonaut's space flight debut. "Talking about the roles and responsibilities, I will try my best to complete the routine maintenance of the space station," Jiang told the press. 

The three of us should stay as one. We have to be united. I believe with the support of all the Chinese people, as well as the scientific research and the guidance of the commander, we will successfully accomplish all the missions, Jiang added. 

CGTN graphics by Yin Yating
CGTN graphics by Yin Yating

CGTN graphics by Yin Yating


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