On Thursday, China successfully blasted off its 3-astronaut crew to its new space station. The astronauts were aboard the Shenzhou-12 capsule that was atop the Long March 2F rocket. It should be noted that another rocket called the Long March 5B recently disintegrated over the Earth’s atmosphere and landed in ocean. The current mission will be the country’s longest crewed space mission. It is also China’s first crewed space mission in almost 5 years.


In its first for humanity’s history, astronauts will be now living at a second place on the space orbit. On Thursday, China launched a 3-astranaut crew for a mission to its currently under-development space station.

In China’s Gobi Desert, the Shenzhou-12 capsule, which was atop the Long March 2F, blasted off. After 21 minutes, the launch center director, Mr. Zhang Zhifen announced how the lift off was a ‘complete success’.

The nascent Chinese space station, called the Tiangong (roughly translated to Heavenly Palace), will join the International Space Station to be the second space station in the space. International Space Station or, the ISS was initially developed by the collaboration of US and Russia.

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What all did China launch?

3-astranauts were blasted off into the Space by China. These astronauts were aboard the Shenzhou-12 – space craft that will dock to 2 space station modules that were launched earlier by China. The Tiangong space station will see another module fit into it. It is currently orbiting 390 kilometers above Earth. The International Space Station orbits 399.1 km above Earth.

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The Shenzhou-12 itself is made up of 3 separate modules. This includes a re-entry aircraft aimed to bring back the astronauts back to the planet. Along with the components, and the crew of 3 astronauts, China also launched basic food and essential supplies. This includes as many as 120 meals that is aboard the Shenzhou-12.

According to Ji Quiming, who serves as the assistant to the director of the Chinese space agency, the meals come with ‘balanced nutrition, rich variety, good flavour and long shelf life’.

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Who are the 3 astronauts aboard the spacecraft?

The 3 astronauts include the mission commander Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming & Tang Hongbo. Commander Haisheng is a Major General of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). A former pilot, he’s the eldest in the mission, at 56-years of age. He’s the most experienced astronaut, having gone to space twice – in 2005 & 2013.

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Liu Boming serves as the Major General in the PLA. He’s also an experienced space traveler, and was part of the mission that saw China’s first spacewalk back in 2008.

Finally, Hongbo serves as a Colonel in the PLA. The 45-year-old astronaut will be making his first trip to space and was earlier serving as the backup crew member of the mission.

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How long will they stay in space and what will be their mission?

According to Chinese space agency, the 3-member crew will be spending its next 3 months in the space orbit. After the 3 months are done, another crew of 3 astronauts will replace them. The primary objective in the space mission for the crew will be to bring the Tianhe module of the space station into an operational state.

The Chinese space station is largely under construction. So, the next few Chinese crews to the space will continue to build it. The astronauts will install all the components, test them, and carry space walks to do so. These components include cameras, life support system, and in-space waste management components.

Commander of the Mission, Major Haisheng spoke to news reporters on Wednesday and claimed how the mission would be a more challenging one to him than his prior ones. He was quoted by the Guardian saying, “We will not only have to arrange the core module, the ‘space home, but also to carry out a series of key technology verifications.”