China to send 1st crewed mission to new space station on Thursday.

China plans to send three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-12 manned spacecraft to its new orbital station on 17 June, Ji Qiming, an assistant director at the China Manned Space Program, said on Wednesday.

The first three astronauts who will fly to the Tianhe core module of the Chinese space station will be Liu Boming, Tang Hongbo and mission commander Nie Haisheng.

"After Shenzhou-12 enters the specified orbit, it will dock at the Tianhe core module in a fast automatic mode and form a single structure together with the module and the Long March 2 cargo spacecraft," Ji told reporters, adding that the mission will last for three months.

The mission will be sent into orbit on board the Long March 2F carrier rocket, which is set to be launched at 9:22 a.m. local time (01:22 GMT) from the Jiuquan spaceport in northwestern China.

China successfully sent off the core module of its first space outpost Tiangong in late April. In general, it will take 12 missions to assemble the space station in lower Earth orbit, with the construction set to complete by 2022.

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