China has sent its third crew to the country’s new space station in Tiangong.
A long march The 2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou 14 spacecraft lifted off today (June 4) at 10:44 p.m. EDT (0244 GMT; 10:44 June 5 local time) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.
The three Shenzhen 14 The crew members – commander Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe – were officially announced as crew on Saturday. You are now heading for Tianhe, the core module of the facility that is still under construction tian gongwith Shenzhou 14 expected to dock about six hours after launch.
Related: The latest news on China’s space program
The three spacecraft are expected to spend six months aboard Tianhe. Chen, 43, a 2016 Veteran of the Year Shenzhen 11 Mission, embarks on his second mission and first as commander. Liu, 43, became China’s first woman in space aboard Shenzhou 9 in 2012, making her second flight, while Cai, 46, is making his first trip into space.
“The three of us are relatively young in terms of age,” Chen told media at a news conference on Saturday. “But we are fully prepared, enthusiastic and confident. The Shenzhou 14 mission is the key to building the space station, with more difficulties and greater challenges.”
All three crew members were selected in China’s second round of astronaut selection in 2010, meaning this is the first mission without one of China’s senior, first-time astronauts on the journey.
Tianhe, the 16.6 meter long core module of the space station, awaits the astronauts Launched April 2021. It has been visited by a total of six astronauts, making up the Shenzhou 12 and Shenzhen 13 crews.
The three newcomers are tasked with overseeing the arrival of two new modules called Wentian (“Quest for the Heavens”) and Mengtian (“Dreaming of the Heavens”), which are scheduled to launch in late July and October, respectively.
After the modules reach Tianhe and dock, the crew, in cooperation with ground teams, will use Tianhe’s large robotic arm to transfer the modules from the front docking port to the side ports.
The success of these missions would see the completion of the T-shaped Tiangong space station. The Shenzhou 14 trio is also expected to spacewalk, engage in outreach activities, install new equipment inside and outside the space station, and conduct science experiments.
The Wentian module contains new crew quarters. So if all goes according to plan, the 14 astronauts of Shenzhou will welcome the next trio of astronauts on board by the end of the year.
Shenzhou 15 is expected to start in December. Upon its arrival at Tiangong, the first crew would hand over on the Chinese space station, with the orbiting outpost housing six astronauts for a few days.
Initiating its space station project back in 1992, China first developed the ability to send humans into space and developed small test labs for short-term visits.
The completed Tiangong Station is about 20% as massive as that International Space Stationaccording to Chinese space officials.
China launched the last month Tianzhou 4 Cargo spacecraft to deliver thousands of pounds of supplies, propellants, and scientific experiments to Tianhe to support the Shenzhou 14 mission.
Meanwhile, the Shenzhou 15 spacecraft and a Long March 2F rocket will be on standby in Jiuquan for the emergency affecting Shenzhou 14.
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