China launches longest manned space mission


Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft carrying astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong blasts off from the launchpad in Jiuquan, China, October 17, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS

Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft carrying astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong blasts off from the launchpad in Jiuquan, China, October 17, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS

Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng (L), Chen Dong salute before the launch of Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft, in Jiuquan, China, October 17, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS

Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng (L), Chen Dong salute before the launch of Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft, in Jiuquan, China, October 17, 2016. China Daily/via REUTERS

China launched its longest manned space mission on Monday, sending two astronauts into orbit to spend a month aboard an space laboratory that is part of a broader plan to have a permanent manned space station in service around 2022.

The Shenzhou 11 blasted off on a Long March rocket at 7:30 am (07:30 p.m. EDT) from the remote launch site in Jiuquan, in the Gobi desert, in images carried live on state television.

The astronauts will dock with the Tiangong 2 space laboratory, or “Heavenly Palace 2”, which was sent into space last month. It will be the longest stay in space by Chinese astronauts, state media reported.

Early on Monday, Fan Changlong, a vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission, met astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong and wished them well, state news agency Xinhua reported.

“You are going to travel in space to pursue the space dream of the Chinese nation,” Fan said.

“With all the scientific and rigorous training, discreet preparation, and rich experience accumulated from previous missions, you will accomplish the glorious and tough task… We wish you success and look forward to your triumphant return.”

Shenzhou 11 is the third space voyage for Jing, who will command the mission and celebrate his 50th birthday in orbit.

In a manned space mission in 2013, three Chinese astronauts spent 15 days in orbit and docked with a space laboratory, the Tiangong 1.

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.

Shenzhou 11, whose name translates as “Divine Vessel”, will also carry three experiments designed by Hong Kong middle school students and selected in a science competition, including one that will take silk worms into space.

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.

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.

(Reporting by John Ruwitch and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Michael Perry)

Source: Reuters “China launches longest manned space mission”

Note: This is Reuters report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

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3 Comments on “China launches longest manned space mission”

  1. Simon says:

    One would ask why there is no other advance Western countries have a manned mission into space not even ESA has done that? The answer is quite simple. America has prevented all its allies from having an independent space program that can rival its own. Their hegmony are’nt just limited to the Earth but space exploration as well.
    Britain pursued its own space program back in the 50s and was heavily subject to American approval on strict condition it cannot have its own manned mission. To date no American allies are allowed by its lord and master in Washington to have a truely independent space program so that is why after several decades since the Soviets and America sent men to space China is only the third country to do so.
    America is an obstacle to huiman progress, we see this behaviour when they put presseure on their allies to not develop sound military technology of its own and forces them to buy their rejects such as the F35 fly pig.

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    • James says:

      America reaps what it sows. It’s a blessing in disguise that China was prevented from joining the International Space Station project by the Americans. Hard slog for the Chinese but now they are the masters of their own destiny. Much like everything else…

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    • Jane says:

      The Europeans resent being told what to do, and they want to get out from under the American thumb.

      That is why ESA astronauts are learning Mandarin and training in Beijing. They are getting ready for the day when European astronauts will travel to a Tiangong space station.

      Just wait a few years. This will turn out the same as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The United States told the Europeans to stay out, but the Europeans refused to listen to them.

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