China launch its first crewed mission to the Tiangong 2 space station

At 7:30PM US ( 7:30 am/2330 GMT) China launch its first crewed mission to the Tiangong 2 space station.which will test the station’s life support and conduct a variety of experiments over the next 30 days. The mission will be the longest flight the country has conducted to date.

This is the first crewed mission for the country since 2013, and will be carried out by a pair of taikonauts: Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong. The pair will ride into space aboard the Shenzhou-11, which will launch atop China’s Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan launch site in the Gobi desert. The two astronauts will arrive at Tiangong-2 two days after launching. This will be the longest crewed mission China has conducted: the prior record for the country was 15 days, during the Shenzhou 10 mission.

Spending a month aboard a space laboratory that is part of a broader plan to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.

According to SpacePolicyOnline, the Taikonauts will carry out experiments, which will include "taking ultrasound measurements for the first time in space, cultivating plants, and testing the three winners of an experimental design competition in Hong Kong for secondary students." A second mission designed to refuel the station is planned for April 2017.

China launched the Tiangong-2, an 8.6 metric ton space station, into orbit on September 15th, and is designed as a testbed for the country’s larger ambitions in low-Earth orbit, which include a much larger, permanent space station to be launched in the 2020s. Tiangong-2 will replace the Tiangong-1 space station, which was originally launched into orbit in 2011. The country recently lost control of the original station, which is expected to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere sometime next year. 

The Shenzhou 11 blasted off on a Long March rocket at 7:30 am (2330 GMT) from the remote launch site in Jiuquan, in the Gobi desert, in images carried live on state television. 

Watch Live Stream (Replay) CCTV-News is China's preeminent 24-hour English language television channel.


The U.S. Defense Department has highlighted China's increasing space capabilities, saying it was pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations using space-based assets in a crisis.

Advancing China's space program is a priority for Beijing, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power.

China insists its space program is for peaceful purposes.

China has been working to develop its space program for military, commercial and scientific purposes, but is still playing catch-up to established space powers the United States and Russia.

China's Jade Rabbit moon rover landed on the moon in late 2013 to great national fanfare, but soon suffered severe technical difficulties.

The rover and the Chang'e 3 probe that carried it there were the first "soft landing" on the moon since 1976. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had accomplished the feat earlier.

China will launch a "core module" for its first space station some time around 2018, a senior official said in April, part of a plan for a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.

Source: TheVerge, CCTV NEWS, SpacePolicyOnline, Reuters

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