China’s Shenzhou-12 with three astronauts launches into space Space News


The spacecraft withdrew on Thursday around 01:22 GMT in northwest China, further boosting the country’s space program to rival the US.

China has successfully launched the Shenzhou-12, its first manned mission in five years, further accelerating its space program to rival the United States.

The Shenzhou-12, which means “divine ship,” left the Jiuquan satellite launch center in northwest China at around 1:22 GMT on Thursday, according to live video from state CCTV television .

The launch was carried out with a Long March-2F rocket carrier.

The spacecraft carried three male astronauts: Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo.

In the CCTV live video, two of the three astronauts made a “OK” hand signal as Shenzhou crossed the Earth’s atmosphere and after the critical separation of the four impellers.

Chinese astronauts Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming speak ahead of the launch of the Long March-2F Y12 rocket, which is carrying the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft and the three astronauts on Thursday. [Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters]

After entering orbit, the spacecraft will carry out a “rapid automatic meeting and docking with the central module of the Tianhe orbiting space station,” according to CCTV.

The astronauts will be stationed in the central module and will remain in orbit for three months.

China began construction of the space station this year with the launch of Tianhe, the first and largest of the station’s three modules, in late April.

Nie, who comes from the center of Hubei Province and is a former Air Force pilot, is the leader of the mission.

Shenzhou-12 is Nie’s third space launch, after the Shenzhou-6 mission in 2005 and the Shenzhou-10 mission in 2013, according to Xinhua news agency.

It is Liu’s second space mission, the first of which was the Shenzhou-7 mission in 2008, which featured a reference spacewalk. It is Tang’s first journey into space.

China’s last manned flight mission was in 2016, when two men – Chen Dong and Jing Haipeng – were sent via the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft to Tiangong-2, a prototype of the space station where later they remained about a month.

Beijing’s goal is for the country to become a major space power by 2030, making space the newest frontier of its rivalry with the United States.

In May, it became the second country to put a rover on Mars, two years after the first spacecraft landed at the far end of the moon.

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