The longest space mission in the history of the PRC has started

Science, technology and technology news

The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft successfully docked with the Tianhe base module of the Tiangong station under construction. The crew of three taikonauts, including one woman, will work in orbit for six months.

The longest space mission in the history of the PRC has started

Crew

A Chinese spacecraft with three taikonauts on Saturday, October 16, successfully docked with a new orbital station as part of Beijing's longest manned mission to date. The Shenzhou-13 spacecraft, which launched into orbit the day before, docked with the Tianhe base module of the Tiangong station under construction, the PRC Manned Space Flight Program (CMSA) reported. The vehicle was launched using the Changzheng-2F (Long March 2F) launch vehicle from the launch pad at the Jiuquan cosmodrome in Gansu province in northwestern China.

The crew of three – the spacecraft commander Zhai Zhigang, the female taikonaut Wang Yaping, and the taikonaut Ye Guangfu, for whom this will be the first flight into space – must work in orbit for six months. This will be the longest space flight in the history of the PRC. The previous record-breaking crew, who completed the first mission to Tiangong, returned to Earth in September after three months at the space station.

The Tiangong, which means “heavenly palace”, is expected to have a lifespan of 10-15 years. The station will be able to receive three astronauts for up to six months. When completed, it will weigh about 90 tons, which is almost five times less than the 420-ton International Space Station.

What happened to the former orbital stations of China

The first Chinese manned orbital station, Tiangong-1, was launched in September 2011, and the station, Tiangong-2, in September 2016. A few months before this, communication with Tiangong-1 was lost, in April 2018 the station entered the Earth's atmosphere, its components mostly burned out over the Pacific Ocean. The second Chinese manned station completed work in July 2019 and was deorbited.

As part of its actively promoted space program, China has already landed a rover on the Red Planet and sent probes to the moon.

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Author: Ksenia Polskaya

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