China on Thursday launched a spacecraft carrying three astronauts to a part of a space station that is still under construction to keep any citizen as long as possible in near-Earth orbit.
A “Long March 2F” missile carrying the “Shenzhou-12” vehicle, which according to the Chinese means “divine ship”, was launched at 9:22 am Beijing time (0122 GMT) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwest province of Gansu, heading for to the Tianhe module of the Chinese Space Station. Read also Within an ambitious space program: China launches the main capsule for its space station Will it fall over our heads? The Chinese Space Administration is having difficulty returning a rocket safely to Earth Global interactions and fears of the danger of a Chinese missile falling on a populated area… Where will it fall? Interplanetary Dragon .. Is China really seeking to colonize space?
Shenzhou-12 is the third of 11 missions – 4 of which are manned – needed to complete China’s first space station. Construction began last April with the launch of Tianhe, the first and largest of the three station units.
The three astronauts, Nie Haisheng, 56, Liu Poming, 54, and Tang Hongbo, 45, are scheduled to work and stay for three months on the Tianhe Module, the living part of the space station.
During their stay on the cylindrical unit, which is slightly more than the size of a bus, the three occupants will experience the unit’s technologies, including its living support system. They will also monitor how they will be in space, both physically and psychologically, for an extended stay. A next mission to the space station will last 6 months.