China to launch manned mission for its space station
(Sourced from PTI)
China is all set to send three crew members to its new space station for three months on Thursday morning, the country's space agency announced on Wednesday. The spaceship, Shenzhou-12, with three astronauts will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Ji Qiming, assistant to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) Director, said at a press conference held at the launch center.
The spaceship will take Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo into space for the construction of China's space station. This will be the first manned mission during the construction of the space station, Qiming said. The mission is being launched ahead of the 100-year celebrations of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) to be held next month.
After entering the orbit, the spaceship will conduct a fast automated rendezvous and dock with the in-orbit space station core module Tianhe, forming a complex with the core module and the cargo craft Tianzhou-2. The astronauts aboard Shenzhou-12 will be stationed in the core module and remain in orbit for three months. The launch will be carried out with a Long March-2F carrier rocket.
"Astronauts will conduct multiple tasks outside the cabin, carrying out repair and maintenance on the spacecraft, and other construction missions. Astronauts coming out of the cabin will become a new routine," Yang Liwei, director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office said.
China launched its space station core module Tianhe on April 29. It now plans to complete the verification of key technologies and the in-orbit construction of the space station through multiple launches within two years. The space station is expected to be ready by next year. In all, China plans to launch 11 space missions before the space station is ready.
China's space station has been equipped with a robotic arm over which the US has raised concerns for its possible military applications. The arm, which can be stretched to 15 meters, will also play a vital role in building the space station in orbit, Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China's manned space engineering project, had said.