China launches second crewed mission to build space station

A Long March-2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft, which means "Divine Vessel" in Chinese, blasted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern province of Gansu at 12:23 a.m. Beijing time (1623 GMT on Friday).

China began construction of what will be its first permanent space station in April with the launch of Tianhe - the first and largest of the station's three modules.

The astronauts Zhai Zhigang, 55, Wang Yaping, 41, and Ye Guangfu, 41, are to work and stay on Tianhe, the living quarters of the future space station, for six months.

A send off ceremony was held for three Chinese astronauts on Friday (October 15) before they boarded Shenzhou-13 spaceship for the country’s longest crewed mission to date.

In the latest mission, astronauts will carry out tests of the key technologies and robotics on Tianhe needed to assemble the space station, verify onboard life support systems and conduct a host of scientific experiments.

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