Wednesday, February 8, 2023

China sent 3 astronauts to the orbital station

BEIJING ( Associated Press) – China launched a spacecraft carrying three astronauts on Tuesday to complete construction of its permanent orbital station, expanding the maximum capacity to six crew members on board.

The Shenzhou-15 crew will remain aboard the Tiangong Station for a few days with the trio, returning to Earth at the end of their three-month mission.

The spacecraft was carried into space by a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert. The launch took place on Tuesday night at 11:08 pm.

According to the manned space agency, the six-month mission, which includes Fei Junlong, chief, Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu, will be the last in the station construction phase.

Fei, 57, is a veteran of the four-day Shenzhou-6 mission in 2005, the second human sent into space by China. Deng and Zhang make their first flight into space.

The station’s third and last module had been docked weeks earlier. For more than a decade, it has continuously maintained a crew in orbit.

After the automatic docking of the Shenzhou-15 ship with the Tianhe Living and Control Module, the station will be expanded to its full capacity, with three modules and three ships having a total mass of about 100 tons.

Tiangong can receive up to six astronauts, and delivery will take about a week. This will be the crew’s first trip into orbit.

Previous missions to the space station have taken about 13 hours from lift-off to docking.

China has not said what works are needed to complete the station. Next year, it plans to launch the Xuntian Space Telescope, which although it will not be part of Tiangong, will orbit synchronously with the station and may dock with it for maintenance work.

Nation World News Desk
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