CM – China’s rocket launches with the first crew to the new space station

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The launch took place at 9:22 a.m. (0122 GMT) from the Jiuquan Launch Center in northwest China’s Gobi Desert.

The first astronauts for China’s new space station launched on Thursday for the country’s longest manned mission to date, a milestone in establishing Beijing as a space power.

The trio started with a Long March-2F rocket for the Tiangong broadcaster, where they will spend three months, in a live broadcast on state television.

The launch took place at 9:22 a.m. (0122 GMT) from the Jiuquan Launch Center in northwest China’s Gobi Desert, the rocket taking off in clouds of smoke against a blue sky.

At a pre-explosion ceremony, the three astronauts, who were already wearing their spacesuits, greeted a crowd from supporters, including family members and space station staff.

A crowd of space workers and their families had gathered for the ceremony and sang the patriotic song « Without the Communist Party Chi Now there would be no new China, « waved Chinese flags and flowers.

Li Shangfu, Commander in Chief of the manned space program of China, wished the trio that saluted good luck.

Before the start, the state broadcaster CCTV showed one Live feed from inside the spacecraft of the three astronauts waiting for take-off, buckled up and reading some papers.

Their Shenzhou-12 spacecraft will dock with the main Tianhe section of the space station, which will open on September 29th.

The module has separate living rooms for each of them, a treadmill for exercising and a communication center for emails and video calls with floor control.

The launch is a big prestige thing in China as Beijing is preparing to celebrate the 100th To mark the anniversary of the ruling Communist Party on July 1st with a massive propaganda campaign.

To prepare for the mission, the crew completed more than 6,000 hours of training, including hundreds of vo n Underwater flips in full space equipment.

The mission’s commander is Nie Haisheng, an excellent air force pilot for the People’s Liberation Army who has already participated in two space missions.

The Chinese space agency plans a total of eleven launches by the end of next year, including three more manned missions that will deliver two laboratory modules to expand the 70-tonne station as well as supplies and crew members.

The first crew will test and maintain the systems on board, conduct space walks and conduct scientific experiments.

China’s space ambitions were fueled in part by a U.S. ban on astronauts on the International Space Station, a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

It is slated to retire after 2024, despite NASA said it could possibly remain functional beyond 2028.

Tiangong will be much smaller r than the ISS and have a lifespan of at least 10 years.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and will be published via a syndicated feed.)

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