China launched its first crewed mission in five years, successfully sending three astronauts into its new Tianhe space station, CNBC reported. Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo will be the first three astronauts to board the station and will spend three months there testing systems and doing spacewalks.
The three astronauts boarded a Shenzhou-12 spacecraft atop a 2F Long March rocket that was launched at around 9:22 a.m. Chinese time from the satellite launch center in Juiquan, northeast. western China. The mission was declared “totally successful” at 9.43am.
The crew will install quarters in the base module, launched in April 2021 in the middle controversial on the reentry of the Long March 5b rocket. The main objective of the crew is to commission the 24 tonne module. “We need to set up our new home in space and test a series of new technologies,” Commander Nie Haisheng said. “So the mission is difficult and challenging. I think that with the three of us working closely together, performing deep and precise operations, we can overcome our challenges.”
The mission is the first of 11 planned for Tianhe during the construction phase of the space station. China will send two more modules and several other crewed missions with the goal of completing the station by 2022. China has been banned from the US-led International Space Station, but has said it may allow a foreign involvement in its own station.
China has stepped up its space program in recent years. He recently landed a lunar sampling robot on the Moon and sent him back on Earth, then landed a rover on Mars earlier this year. Eventually, China plans to send astronauts to the moon over the next decade in partnership with Russia.
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