/ 18 June 2021

Up, up and away

This photo taken on June 9, 2021 shows a Long March-2F carrier rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft for China's first manned mission scheduled for June 17 to its new space station, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the country's northwestern Gansu province. (Photo by STR / China News Service (CNS) / AFP) / China OUT
This photo taken on June 9, 2021 shows a Long March-2F carrier rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft for China's first manned mission scheduled for June 17 to its new space station, at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the country's northwestern Gansu province. (Photo by STR / China News Service (CNS) / AFP) / China OUT

As for more celestial matters, China yesterday launched 3 astronauts into orbit to begin work on its new space station. Overnight, the crew boarded the Tianhe (Heavenly Harmony) space station where they will live for 3 months, “set up our new home” and conduct a whole lotta tests. It marks China’s longest crewed space mission to date and its first in nearly 5 years. China’s move to build its own space station is partly due to its exclusion from the International Space Station, which is operated by the US, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan. But China says visitors are welcome to drop by its new digs, with Russia putting its hand up for a visit. Beijing’s latest achievement highlights its growing confidence and capability in the space race. Over the past 6 months, China has upped its space research, returning rock and soil samples to Earth from the Moon and landing a robot on Mars.

Image source: AFP

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