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China Sends the Second Crew of Taikonauts to Its New Space Station

China's second crewed mission was a success. The Shenzhou 13 spacecraft launched on October 15th with its three passengers, commander Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, and Ye Guangfu, to Tianhe, the core module of the Tiangong Space Station that China is building in low Earth orbit.
Shenzhou-13 took off atop of a Long March-2F carrier rocket 6 photos
Long March-2F carrier rocket blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest ChinaLong March-2F carrier rocket blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest ChinaLong March-2F carrier rocket blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest ChinaLong March-2F carrier rocket blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest ChinaShenzhou-13 crew: Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu
The Shenzhou-13 took off atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 00:23 (Beijing Time). Almost 10 minutes after takeoff, the Shenzhou-13 spaceship successfully separated from the rocket and entered the preset orbit, sending the trio to their new home.

About six-and-a-half hours later, the mission docked with the Tianhe core module. The taikonauts will stay in orbit for six months. During this time, they will carry out various maintenance tasks, which will include using the space station's new robotic arm. The crew will also person extravehicular activities to further verify a series of key technologies such as long-term residence in space, recycling of resources, and life support for astronauts.

It is China's 21st mission since the staffed space program was first started. It is also the second crewed mission in the construction stage of the nation's first space station. The first module, Tianhe, was launched back in April.

It provides life support and living quarters for the three crew members, and it also provides the station's power, propulsion, and life support systems. Tianhe will be joined by another two modules, which are scheduled to be launched in 2022.

A total of 11 launches are planned for the whole construction phase. Once completed, the Tiangong Space Station will have roughly one-fifth the mass of the International Space Station, which will likely be retired within the decade since it has outlived its life expectancy of 15 years.

Tiangong is expected to be up and running by the end of next year, and it will circle Earth for at least a decade.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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