|Mission type||Chinese Space Station crew transport|
|Mission duration||90 days (planned)|
5 days, 1 hour and 7 minutes (in progress)
|Manufacturer||China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||17 June 2021, 01:22:27 UTC|
|Rocket||Long March 2F|
|Launch site||Jiuquan, SLS-1|
|Contractor||China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology|
|End of mission|
|Landing date||September 2021 (planned) |
|Landing site||Inner Mongolia, China|
|Reference system||Geocentric orbit|
|Regime||Low Earth orbit|
|Docking with Chinese Space Station|
|Docking port||Tianhe forward|
|Docking date||17 June 2021, 07:54 |
|Time docked||4 days, 18 hours and 36 minutes (in progress)|
Shenzhou 12 mission patch
(L-R) Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming
Shenzhou 12 (Chinese: 神舟十二号; pinyin: Shénzhōu shí'èr hào, see § Etymology) is a Chinese spaceflight that launched on 17 June 2021. The flight marks the seventh crewed Chinese spaceflight and the seventh crewed flight of the Shenzhou program. The spacecraft is carrying three People's Liberation Army Astronaut Corps (PLAAC) taikonauts on the first flight to the Tianhe core module, the first module of the Chinese space station Tiangong.
Shenzhou 12 was originally planned as the second visiting mission for the experimental Tiangong-2 space station, following Shenzhou 11. In 2016, plans for a second mission to Tiangong-2 were cancelled, and Shenzhou 12 was replanned as the first crewed Shenzhou mission to the Tiangong space station which currently consists of one module, Tianhe, launched on 29 April 2021. The flight will mark the first of four crewed missions, by the end of construction in 2022.
The spacecraft was launched on a Long March-2F rocket in China's Gobi Desert on 17 June 2021. After about six-and-a-half hours flight it arrived at Chinese space station Tiangong. The mission docked with the Tianhe core module at 07:54 UTC, 17 June 2021, following the launch and successful docking of Tianzhou 2, the second flight of China's Tianzhou cargo resupply craft. Tianzhou 2 was able to remain docked, because the Tianhe core module has four docking ports, unlike China's two previous space stations which only had one.
The crew entered the Tianhe core module later at 10:48 UTC, marking the first time taikonauts have entered the Tiangong space station. They will carry out tasks such as the mechanical arm operation and extravehicular activities, and verify a series of key technologies such as long-term residence in space, recycling of resources and life support of astronauts. Two spacewalks are planned to occur during the crew's approximately three-month stay in orbit. Shenzhou 13 will be in standby for any possible rescue mission.
Shenzhou-12 spacecraft is based heavily on Soyuz MS technology. Shenzhou was approved in 1992 as part of the Chinese space program Project 921, and has a design similar to the Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
In the front of the spacecraft, there is the orbital module which contains an androgynous docking ring based on APAS technology, which is used to dock to the Tianhe core module. In the middle is the reentry module containing the crew which is a scaled-up version of the Soyuz descent module. The rear of the spacecraft is the service module which is equipped with engines, fuel tanks, and solar panels.
The crew was publicly announced in a press conference on 16 June 2021.
PLASSF Major General Nie Haisheng is a veteran of Shenzhou 6 and Shenzhou 10, Major General Liu Boming was a crew in Shenzhou 7, while Senior Colonel Tang Hongbo makes his first flight to space. Nie will have spent about 114 days in space, becoming the longest time total in space from China.
|Commander|| Nie Haisheng, PLAAC|
|Operator 1|| Liu Boming, PLAAC|
|Operator 2|| Tang Hongbo, PLAAC|
|Commander||Zhai Zhigang, PLAAC|
|Operator 1||Wang Yaping (female), PLAAC|
|Operator 2||Ye Guangfu, PLAAC|
The crew of Shenzhou-12 is the first to reside aboard the Tiangong space station. Russia will later fly its spacecraft and Russian crew to the Chinese station, and the European Space Agency will also send its astronauts to the Chinese station. Similar cooperation could extend to hosting astronauts from some developing countries.