China this weekend launched its first rocket that will carry three astronauts into its new space station. It will be the longest-running space mission with a crew the state media reported in the latest step in Beijing’s efforts to establish itself as an important power beyond the Earth.
The three rocketed off just before the midnight hour (1600 GMT) from the Jiuquan launch center located in northwestern China’s Gobi desert, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported and the crew is scheduled to spend six months on Tiangong Space Station. Tiangong satellite.
Following the launch, the China Manned Space Agency declared the launch a success, and stated that those on the team “were in good shape” According to the Xinhua.
The mission , which is twice longer than the 90-day predecessor will establish equipment and test technologies for the future construction of Tiangong.
The mission leader Zhai Zhigang, 55, an ex-fighter pilot who led the nation’s initial spacewalk back in the year 2008 declared that the team would conduct “more complex” spacewalks than previously.
The astronauts’ team also includes the military pilot Wang Yaping, 41, who will be the first woman from China to visit its space station after becoming China’s first woman to visit space in 2013.
One of the team members includes People’s Liberation Army pilot Ye Guangfu 41.
A space team that broke records which was on the first space mission to Tiangong – returned to Earth in September after three years in the station.
China’s highly promoted space programme has already seen the country launch a rover onto Mars and launch probes to the moon.
Tiangong which translates to “heavenly palace”, is scheduled to be operational for at least 10 years.
Its core module was launched into orbit in January of this year. The station is scheduled to be operational by 2022.
The final station will be identical to it’s predecessor, the Soviet Mir station, which orbited Earth in the 1980s to 2001.
The long mission has been planned in order to “expand China’s technological boundary” and test the capability of the space station to last longer in humans, Chen Lan, an independent space analyst with GoTaikonauts spoke to AFP.
“I don’t think it is very challenging, as China’s technologies (are) quite mature, though anything in space is always challenging,” Chen declared.
The launch of Saturday’s rocket came just before China began the launch of its very first satellite for solar exploration into space, which is equipped with a telescope that can observe variations on the Sun.
The Chinese space agency has plans for eleven missions to Tiangong up to the close of the year including two crewed launches that will carry two lab modules in order to build the station’s 70-ton capacity.
China’s space ambitions were encouraged by an US prohibition on Chinese astronauts to the International Space Station, a collaboration between China, the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan.
The ISS is set to retire by 2024, however NASA has indicated that it could be operational beyond 2028.
Chinese space authorities have indicated that they’re open for collaboration with foreign partners in the space station, however the extent of this collaboration is not yet clear.
The country has made great strides since the first satellite was launched in the year 1970.
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It launched it in the position of being the very first Chinese “taikonaut” in space in 2003. It also put on the Chang’e-4 spacecraft on the other edge of the Moon in 2019 , an historic first.
China was the first nation to establish and operate the Rover to Mars during May.
Astronauts who are on space station Tiangong Space Station will enjoy their own living areas as well as exercise equipment, and an electronic communication center that can handle emails and video calls using ground control.