China is aggressively pushing its space program which includes launching an independent space station. The Asian giant has launched the first crewed mission to construct the orbiting laboratory. The three Chinese astronauts will stay on the space station’s core cabin module Tianhe for three months. They are Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo. Tianhe is the first module to launch from China’s station. It was launched into orbit in April. The Chinese space station is named Tiangong. The Shenzhou-12 spacecraft carrying three astronauts were launched from the Gobi Desert. The Long March 2F rocket blasted off with Shenzhou-12 atop. The mission control said that the launch was successful.
This is the first crewed space mission in China for the construction of the space station. Overall, it is the seventh crewed mission to space by the country. It is also the first crewed mission since China’s last manned mission in 2016. China said that the trio will set a new record for the country’s manned space mission duration. The Shenzhou-11 crew in 2016 had spent 33 days in space. The Shenzhou-12 spacecraft was docked successfully with the new space station. It connected with Tianhe about six hours after takeoff. The three will be stationed in the core module. They will carry out science experiments, test equipment, construct the space station to receive more modules, and conduct maintenance. The station will receive two laboratory modules later this year.
The CMSA said that the work at the space station is more complicated and challenging this time. The crew will complete four major tasks. They will operate and manage the in-orbit test of the Tianhe module. Besides, they will be verifying the recycling and life support system at the orbiting laboratory. Other tasks include testing of the robotic arm and management of materials and waste. The astronauts will then assemble and test extravehicular spacesuits. CMSA said that they will also perform two extravehicular activities. The station will then become ready for conducting science and technology experiments. The Chinese space station will be ready by 2022 end. The T-shaped station will weigh 66 tons.