China ‘s space station is already entering the final stages of its construction.
China sent three new taikonauts (China’s name for astronauts ) to its space station on Tuesday , where they will make the first change of crew in orbit in the history of their country in a few days, according to official media.
The Shenzhou-15 mission spacecraft was propelled by a Long-March 2F rocket , which took off at 23:08 local time (15:08 GMT) from the Jiuquan space center in the Gobi desert (northwest), the Xinhua press agency announced. , which cites the space agency in charge of manned flights ( CMSA ).
The astronauts, three men, will stay six months in space.
Initially, they will cohabit with their three colleagues (including a woman) from the previous Shenzhou-14 mission , who have been in the space station for about half a year and will return to earth in a few days.
For the first time in the history of the Chinese space program , two Chinese crews will make the exchange in orbit.
Taikonauts in the “heavenly palace” to finish
Called in Chinese Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace”), also known by its acronym CSS (“Chinese space station” in English), the space station already has its final T-shaped structure, with three modules.
But different adjustments still have to be made during this Shenzhou-15 mission that will be “the last one dedicated to the construction”, pointed out the CMSA.
The crew sent into space on Tuesday includes, as usual in these cases, three military pilots.
The mission commander is Fei Junlong, a former crew member of Shenzhou-6 (2005). He will be with Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu, for whom it will be the first space flight.
the Shenzhou-15 crew will also make three or four sorties into space to continue placing the equipment outside the station, the CMSA said .
Tiangong is similar in size to the former Russian-Soviet Mir station . Its life span will be at least 10 years.
China was pushed to build its own space station because of the US rejection of its participation in the International Space Station .
China sent its first taikonaut into space in 2003. At the beginning of 2019, it also placed a device on the far side of the Moon , a world first.
In 2021, China succeeded in bringing a robot to the surface of Mars and plans to send men to the Moon by 2030.