The world most populous country is pretty much ambitious with its space projects as it has reached some milestones this year alone. First, it successfully launched the integral part of its own space station into low Earth orbit, it sent a probe to Mars and now, it has launched a new spacecraft on Thursday which carries three astronauts to part of its under-construction space station.
This mission will be the longest stay in low Earth orbit by any Chinese national as the country hopes to further boost its space presence like other advanced countries of the world such as the United States.
The spacecraft was boosted using the big March 2F rocket to transport the Shenzhou-12 (“Divine Vessel” in English) which is bound for the space station module Tianhe.
The trip commenced at 9:22 a.m. (0122 GMT) in Beijing from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center located in northwestern province of Gansu.
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This is the third of the 11 missions to the under-construction Chinese space station and four of those space missions will be crewed.
This will allow the country to fully build its own full-fledge space station as construction began back in April with the launch of the largest part of the three modules that’ll make up the space station.
The names of the three astronauts heading for the space station includes Nie Haisheng, 56, Liu Boming, 54, and lastly Tang Hongbo, 45 all of whom will work and stay on Tianhe for at least three months.
Tianhe has a cylinder shape and its size can be compared to a city bus. The three astronauts will test the module’s technologies which includes its life-support system among others.
Their wellbeing will also be monitored in the space. The physical and psychological effects of their extended stay will also be examined.
“This will be the first crewed flight in the space station (construction) phase, and I’m lucky to be able to have the ‘first baton’,” Nie told reporters in Jiuquan a day before the launch.
An upcoming mission to the space station will last six months.