17 June 2022

China sends crewed mission to complete Tiangong space station.

China has sent three astronauts on a six-month-long mission to complete work on its permanent orbiting space station, the China Manned Space Agency said.

The Shenzhou-14 crew will spend six months on the Tiangong station, during which it will oversee the addition of two laboratory modules to join the main Tianhe living space that was launched in April 2021.

A Long March-2F rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert in northwest China at 10:44am (02:44 GMT) with the spacecraft Shenzhou-14, or “Divine Vessel”, and its three astronauts, a live broadcast by state television showed.

The mission is headed by commander Chen Dong, 43, joined by fellow astronauts Liu Yang, 43, and Cai Xuzhe, 46. They will live and work on the space station for about 180 days before returning to Earth in December.

The space station, when completed by the year-end, will lay a significant milestone in China’s three-decade-long crewed space programme, first approved in 1992.

The completion of the structure, about a fifth of the International Space Station (ISS) by mass, is a source of pride among common Chinese people, and caps President Xi Jinping’s 10 years as leader of the ruling Communist Party.

Source: www.aljazeera.com

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