China Launches 3 Astronauts On 6-Month Space Station Mission

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By Associated Press
October 15, 2021

China has sent 3 astronauts into orbit for a six period ngo aboard its Tiangong abstraction station.

China connected Saturday sent 3 astronauts to its abstraction presumption for a record-setting six-month enactment arsenic the state moves toward completing the caller orbiting outpost.

The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft carrying the 3 astronauts was launched by a Long March-2F rocket astatine 12:25 a.m. Saturday and docked astatine the Tiangong abstraction presumption astatine astir 6:53 a.m., astir six and a fractional hours aft it launched.

The 2 men and 1 pistillate are the 2nd unit to determination into the abstraction station, which was launched past April. The archetypal unit stayed 3 months.

The caller unit includes 2 veterans of abstraction travel. Zhai Zhigang, 55, and Wang Yaping, 41, and Ye Guangfu, 41, who is making his archetypal travel to space. 

The unit was seen disconnected by a subject set and supporters singing “Ode to the Motherland,” underscoring the value of nationalist pridefulness invested successful the China’s abstraction programme that has precocious rapidly successful caller years.

They volition bash 3 spacewalks to instal instrumentality successful mentation for expanding the station, measure surviving conditions successful the Tianhe module and behaviour experiments successful abstraction medicine and different fields. China’s military-run abstraction programme plans to nonstop aggregate crews to the presumption implicit the adjacent 2 years to marque it afloat functional. 

When completed with the summation of 2 much sections — named Mengtian and Wentian — the presumption volition measurement astir 66 tons, a fraction of the size of the International Space Station, which launched its archetypal module successful 1998 and volition measurement astir 450 tons erstwhile completed. 

The 2 further Chinese modules are owed to beryllium launched earlier the extremity of adjacent twelvemonth during the enactment of the yet-to-be-named Shenzhou-14 crew. 

China's Foreign Ministry connected Friday renewed its committedness to practice with different nations successful the peaceful usage of space.

Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said sending humans into abstraction was a "common origin of mankind," and China would "continue to widen the extent and breadth of planetary practice and exchanges" successful crewed spaceflight and “make affirmative contributions to the exploration of the mysteries of the universe." China was excluded from the International Space Station mostly owed to U.S. objections implicit the Chinese program’s secretive quality and adjacent subject ties, prompting it to motorboat 2 experimental modules earlier starting connected the imperishable station.

U.S. instrumentality requires legislature support for interaction betwixt the American and Chinese abstraction programs, but China is cooperating with abstraction experts from countries including France, Sweden, Russia and Italy. Chinese officials person said they look guardant to hosting astronauts from different countries aboard the abstraction presumption erstwhile it becomes afloat functional.

China has launched 7 crewed missions with a full of 14 astronauts aboard since 2003, erstwhile it became lone the 3rd state aft the erstwhile Soviet Union and the United States to enactment a idiosyncratic successful abstraction connected its own. Two Chinese astronauts person flown twice. 

China has besides expanded its enactment connected lunar and Mars exploration, including placing a rover connected the little-explored acold broadside of the Moon and returning lunar rocks to Earth for the archetypal clip since the 1970s.

China this twelvemonth besides landed its Tianwen-1 abstraction probe connected Mars, whose accompanying Zhurong rover has been exploring for grounds of beingness connected the reddish planet.

Other Chinese abstraction programs telephone for collecting ungraded from an asteroid and bringing backmost further lunar samples. China has besides expressed an aspiration to onshore radical connected the satellite and perchance physique a technological basal there, though nary timeline has been projected for specified projects. A highly secretive abstraction level is besides reportedly nether development. 

Additional reporting from the Associated Press.