The Shenzhou-12 spacecraft delivered three Chinese language taikonauts to the core module of China’s house station, Tianhe.


Getty/Xinhua Information Company

Three Chinese language astronauts headed to the nation’s just lately launched house station to spend roughly three months within the Tianhe core module. The Shenzhou-12 spacecraft launched from the Jiuquan Satellite tv for pc Launch Heart within the Gobi Desert in northern China this week.

The launch occurred within the morning native time Thursday. You’ll be able to rewatch the motion by leaping to the underside of this text, the place a recording of the CCTV livestream is obtainable. The house vacationers efficiently docked with the station simply 6.5 hours after launch.

Why is the crewed flight such an enormous deal? It is the primary time in 5 years that China has despatched “taikonauts” — Chinese language astronauts — to house. The three taikonauts on the flight are Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo. Haisheng has flown on two earlier flights, whereas Boming has flown on one. This was the primary flight for Hongbo.

NASA administrator Invoice Nelson issued an announcement on Thursday saying, “Congratulations to China on the profitable launch of crew to their house station! I sit up for the scientific discoveries to return.”

China’s final crewed launch occurred on Oct. 17, 2016, and docked with the China’s final house station, Tiangong-2. That station now not orbits the Earth, having been intentionally deorbited in July 2019.

Heavenly our bodies

In April, China started development of its next-generation house station with the launch of the Tianhe core module. Two extra modules can be launched within the coming 18 months, however Tianhe is prepared for habitation now. When full, the station will present a human outpost in low-Earth orbit for China, permitting the nation and associate nations to carry out science experiments for the following decade.

Talking at a press convention on Tuesday, Ji Qiming, of the China Manned House Company, stated the mission will look to finish a couple of principal goals regarding verification of key applied sciences:

  • Astronaut long-duration, in-orbit stays
  • Regenerative atmosphere management and life help
  • Crew and supplies resupply
  • Further vehicular actions and operations
  • In-orbit upkeep

The fledgling station will develop into the one different operational house habitat outdoors of the Worldwide House Station. Will probably be a couple of quarter of the s

Why is China constructing an area station?

House science and human spaceflight capabilities, principally, with a wholesome facet of geopolitics.

The US Congress handed a legislation stopping American contact with China’s house program in 2011, successfully barring China and its taikonauts and scientists from collaborating in missions to the ISS.

China launched its personal house station, Tiangong-1, that very same 12 months. It operated for simply over 4 years earlier than its service was ended. China’s house program conceded it misplaced management of the station in early 2016 and, two years later, it got here crashing down, touchdown within the Pacific Ocean. A follow-up station, Tiangong-2, was launched in 2016 and intentionally deorbited in 2019. Each supplied a take a look at mattress for the brand new Chinese language house station, which is solely named Tiangong.

The brand new station is anticipated to orbit at round 230 miles above the Earth, about 20 miles decrease than the ISS, with the power to maneuver up and down in orbit as essential.


After the launch of the Tianhe core module again in April, the world was transfixed by the spent rocket booster, used to get Tianhe to orbit, and its descent again to Earth. Its deorbit was uncontrolled, elevating issues it might crash again right into a populated space of the planet. Happily, Earth incorporates a variety of unpopulated areas — and the booster crashed into the Indian Ocean, although not too removed from the Maldives.

The Lengthy March 2F rocket is barely completely different to the Lengthy March 5B utilized in that mission, however there have been questions over China’s dealing with of the deorbit course of. One of many first questions journalists on the convention pressed Qiming on was how China was getting ready for Shenzhou 12’s booster to fall again to Earth.

“The final levels of all forms of launchers that carry out the house station missions have been handled with passivation know-how and won’t explode in orbit and generate house particles,” Qiming, who appeared to learn from a ready assertion, stated through a translator.

“We’re keen to conduct extra in depth worldwide exchanges and cooperation with different nations on the problems of artifical spacecraft wreckage and house particles to make sure the long run sustainability of outer house actions.”

Watch the Shenzhou-12 launch

The replay of the livestream is beneath, carried by CCTV on YouTube:

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