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China set to send 3 astronauts on longest crewed mission yet

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BEIJING (AP) — China is preparing to send three astronauts to live on its space station for six months — a new milestone for a program that has advanced rapidly in recent years. The launch expected early Saturday will start China’s longest-ever crewed space mission and set a record for the most time spent in space by Chinese astronauts. The first crew it sent to the station returned in mid-September and the new crew is expected to continue their work. Mission pilot Zhai Zhigang performed China’s first spacewalk. Wang Yaping, the only woman on the mission, was a crew member on one of China’s earlier experimental space stations. Ye Guangfu will be traveling into space for the first time.

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