China took a move nearer to achieving its new space station on Thursday as its launch of astronauts into space became a success.
On Thursday morning, China’s Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, which is also called the Divine Vessel, was launched on a Long March-2F carrier rocket. It was released from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, northwest of the country.
The successful launch will deliver the crew to the Tiagong or Heavenly Place, the country’s core module of the space station it plans. The station is currently in a low Earth orbit and is undergoing construction.
China’s state media CCTV reported that about six and a half hours after the launch, the space vehicle will land with the core module.
It will take three months for the crew to remain in the orbit in which they will test the maintenance as well as the life support system.
The recent mission marked China’s first mission armed with a crew and the first manned mission in about half a decade. It also became the third launch out of the 11 launches done for the country’s construction of its space station.
Two of the astronauts sent by the country will do a couple of long-duration spacewalks while they are in orbit. After them, China will send another three spacecraft to send crew and two laboratory modules into the space station.
The country aims to finish its space station construction by the end of next year.
The crew for the mission will be armed with new spacewalk suits and spacecraft according to Huang Weifen who is among the chief designers of the program. “The possibility of various problems is quite high. So for the astronauts, emergency decision-making and troubleshooting capabilities are also very high requirements,” Huang said.
China was not included in the 19 varied countries being accommodated at the International Space Station (ISS), which already hosted 200 astronauts.
Political protest from the US has banned Chinese astronauts from the ISS. China, therefore, is pushing to establish its own station.