It will take less than 10 minutes for a Long March 2F rocket to send two astronauts inside the Shenzhou 11 space capsule on course toward a docking with China’s Tiangong 2 space lab.
The 191-foot-tall (58-meter) rocket is scheduled to blast off from the Jiuquan space center in northwestern China’s Inner Mongolia territory at 2330 GMT (7:30 p.m. EDT), or around sunrise Monday at the launch site.
Astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will be aboard the Shenzhou 11 spaceship, beginning a 33-day mission in orbit.
Boeing’s work on the International Space Station, the CST-100 Starliner commercial crew capsule and NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System are under the umbrella of John Elbon, who leads the company’s space exploration division in Houston.
Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken say SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket was a “very pure flying machine” as it sped their Crew Dragon spaceship into orbit, but they said they were surprised by the rougher-than-expected ride on the Falcon 9’s powerful upper stage.
Two crewmen returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Friday, riding a Russian Soyuz spaceship to a parachute-assisted, rocket-cushioned landing in Kazakhstan to close out more than 196 days in orbit. Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet undocked from the station at 1047 GMT (6:47 a.m. EDT) and landed in Kazakhstan at 1410 GMT (10:10 a.m. EDT).