China Launches 3-member Shenzhou-18 Crew to its Space Station

Shenzhou-18 manned spaceflight mission astronauts commander Ye Guangfu (R), Li Cong (C), and Li Guangsu wave during the see-off ceremony before the launch in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, 25 April 2024. EPA/WU HAO
Shenzhou-18 manned spaceflight mission astronauts commander Ye Guangfu (R), Li Cong (C), and Li Guangsu wave during the see-off ceremony before the launch in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, 25 April 2024. EPA/WU HAO
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China Launches 3-member Shenzhou-18 Crew to its Space Station

Shenzhou-18 manned spaceflight mission astronauts commander Ye Guangfu (R), Li Cong (C), and Li Guangsu wave during the see-off ceremony before the launch in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, 25 April 2024. EPA/WU HAO
Shenzhou-18 manned spaceflight mission astronauts commander Ye Guangfu (R), Li Cong (C), and Li Guangsu wave during the see-off ceremony before the launch in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, 25 April 2024. EPA/WU HAO

China launched a three-member crew to its orbiting space station on Thursday as part of its ambitious program that aims to put astronauts on the moon by 2030.
The Shenzhou-18 spacecraft lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert in northwestern China atop a Long March 2-F rocket at 8:59 p.m. (1259 GMT).
The spacecraft’s three-member crew will relieve the Shenzhou-17 team, which has been manning China’s Tiangong space station since last October.
The China Manned Space Agency, or CMSA, held a send-off ceremony — complete with flag-waving children and patriotic tunes — for the Shenzhou-18 crew earlier on Thursday, as the three astronauts prepared to enter the spacecraft.
The trio is made of Commander Ye Guangfu, 43, a veteran astronaut who took part in the Shenzhou-13 mission in 2021, and fighter pilots Li Cong, 34, and Li Guangsu, 36, who are spaceflight rookies.
They are expected to reach the space station about six-and-a-half hours after liftoff, The Associated Press reported.
China built its own space station after being excluded from the International Space Station, largely because of US concerns over the Chinese military’s involvement in the program. This year, the station is slated for two cargo spacecraft missions and two manned spaceflight missions.



World’s First Wooden Satellite Built by Japan Researchers 

The world's first wooden satellite made from wood and named LignoSat, developed by scientists at Kyoto University and logging company Sumitomo Forestry, is shown during a press conference at Kyoto University in Kyoto on May 28, 2024. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / AFP)
The world's first wooden satellite made from wood and named LignoSat, developed by scientists at Kyoto University and logging company Sumitomo Forestry, is shown during a press conference at Kyoto University in Kyoto on May 28, 2024. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / AFP)
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World’s First Wooden Satellite Built by Japan Researchers 

The world's first wooden satellite made from wood and named LignoSat, developed by scientists at Kyoto University and logging company Sumitomo Forestry, is shown during a press conference at Kyoto University in Kyoto on May 28, 2024. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / AFP)
The world's first wooden satellite made from wood and named LignoSat, developed by scientists at Kyoto University and logging company Sumitomo Forestry, is shown during a press conference at Kyoto University in Kyoto on May 28, 2024. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / AFP)

The world's first wooden satellite has been built by Japanese researchers who said their tiny cuboid craft will be blasted off on a SpaceX rocket in September.

Each side of the experimental satellite developed by scientists at Kyoto University and logging company Sumitomo Forestry measures just 10 centimeters (four inches).

The creators expect the wooden material will burn up completely when the device re-enters the atmosphere -- potentially providing a way to avoid the generation of metal particles when a retired satellite returns to Earth.

These metal particles could have a negative impact on the environment and telecommunications, the developers said as they announced the satellite's completion on Tuesday.

"Satellites that are not made of metal should become mainstream," Takao Doi, an astronaut and special professor at Kyoto University, told a press conference.

The developers plan to hand the satellite, made from magnolia wood and named LignoSat, to space agency JAXA next week.

It will be sent into space on a SpaceX rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in September, bound for the International Space Station (ISS), they said.

From there, the satellite will be released from the Japanese ISS experiment module to test its strength and durability.

"Data will be sent from the satellite to researchers who can check for signs of strain and whether the satellite can withstand huge changes in temperature," a Sumitomo Forestry spokeswoman told AFP on Wednesday.

Also on Tuesday, a rocket carrying a separate sophisticated satellite -- a collaboration between the European Space Agency (ESA) and JAXA -- blasted off from California on a mission to investigate what role clouds could play in the fight against climate change.

The EarthCARE satellite will orbit nearly 400 kilometers (250 miles) above Earth for three years.