Three Chinese astronauts docked at the country’s space station, marking a new milestone in Beijing’s drive to become a major space power.
- The trio blasted off in a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan launch centre in north-western China’s Gobi desert.
- The team is tasked with “completing in-orbit assembly and construction of the space station”, as well as “commissioning of equipment” and conducting scientific experiments.
- The spacecraft docked at the Tiangong station after about “seven hours of flight”.
About the Tiangong Mission –
- Tiangong is a space station that the Chinese Manned Space Agency (CMSA) is building in low Earth orbit.
- In May 2021, China launched Tianhe, the first of the orbiting space station’s three modules, and the country aims to finish building the station by the end of 2022.
- Tiangong will be much smaller than the International Space Station (ISS), with only three modules compared with 16 modules on the ISS.
- CMSA hopes to keep Tiangong inhabited continuously by three astronauts for at least a decade.
- The space station will host many experiments from both China and other countries.
- Tiangong, which means “Heavenly Palace,” will consist of Tianhe, the main habitat for astronauts, and two modules dedicated to hosting experiments, Mengtian and Wentian, both of which are due to launch in 2022.
- Shenzhou spacecraft, launched from Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert, has sent crews of three astronauts to the space station, while Tianzhou cargo spacecraft will launch from Wenchang on the Chinese island of Hainan to deliver supplies and fuel to the station.