China will make history and send for the first time a civilian to space

Aeronautics professor and payload expert Gui Haichao will be part of the Shenzhou-16 crew that will blast off next Tuesday for the Tiangong space station.

China will send a civilian astronaut into space for the first time Tuesday as part of a mission to the Tiangong space station, the country’s Manned Spaceflight Agency announced.

“Payload expert Gui Haichao is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Peking University,” Lin Xiqiang, a spokesman for the space agency, told reporters Monday.

So far, all the Chinese astronauts sent into space have been members of the People’s Liberation Army….

Gui will be “primarily responsible for the on-orbit operation of experimental space science payloads,” Lin said.

The mission commander will be Jin Haipeng and the third crewmember will be Zhu Yangzhu.

The Shenzhou-16 spacecraft will lift off aboard a Long March2F rocket from the Jiuguan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Tuesday at 09H31 (01H31 GMT), the agency said.

Under President Xi Jinping, China has intensified the conquest of its “space dream”.

The world’s second-largest economy has poured millions into its military-controlled space program, hoping to send humans to the moon.

Beijing is looking to catch up with the United States and Russia after years of lagging behind.

In addition to a space station, China plans to build a base on the moon, and the country’s National Space Administration says it aims to launch a manned lunar mission by 2029.

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