The rocket that would send three crew members to start living on China’s new orbiting space station was on Wednesday moved onto the launch pad ahead of its planned blastoff next week.
The astronauts plan to spend three months on the space station doing spacewalks, construction, maintenance and science experiments.
The main section of the Tianhe station was launched into orbit on April 29, and a cargo spacecraft sent up last month carried fuel, food and equipment to the station in preparation for the crewed mission.
The Long March-2F Y12 rocket carrying the Shenzhou 12 spaceship was transferred to the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Wednesday, the China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a statement.
The space agency plans a total of 11 launches through the end of next year to deliver two laboratory modules to expand the 63.5-tonne station, along with supplies and crew members. Next week’s launch would be the third of those, and the first of the four crewed missions planned.
China said in March that the astronauts training for the upcoming crewed missions were a mix of space travel veterans and newcomers, and included some women.
The first station crew would be all male, although women would be part of future crews, said Yang Liwei (楊利偉), who orbited Earth in China’s first crewed mission in 2003 and is now an official at the space agency.
The Tianhe builds on experience China gained from operating two experimental space stations earlier in its increasingly ambitious space program.
It landed a probe, the Tianwen-1, on Mars last month that carried a rover, the Zhurong. China also has brought back lunar samples, the first by any country’s space program since the 1970s, and landed a probe and rover on the moon’s less explored far side.
It has sent 11 astronauts into space, all of them pilots from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
Beijing does not participate in the International Space Station, largely due to US objections. Washington is wary of the Chinese program’s secrecy and its military connections.
Once completed, the Tianhe would allow for stays of up to six months, similar to the much larger International Space Station (ISS).
The Chinese station reportedly is intended to be used for 15 years and might outlast the ISS, which is nearing the end of its functional lifespan.
Twice a day Hong Kong’s virtually deserted airport fills with the sound of tearful goodbyes as residents fearful for their future under China’s increasingly authoritarian rule start a new life overseas, mostly in Britain. London flights tend to leave in the afternoon and late evening, and for a few hours it briefly feels like the COVID-19 pandemic no longer exists as the airport comes to life. Check-in desks fill up with crowds of passengers wheeling as much luggage as their tickets will permit. Accompanied by the loved ones they leave behind, the scenes are emotionally charged and shadowed by a palpable pall of
A man has confessed to defrauding Chinese-Canadian pop singer Kris Wu (吳亦凡) over a teenager’s accusation that he had sex with her when she was drunk, Beijing police said on Thursday. The announcement added a bizarre twist to a scandal that cost Wu endorsement contracts with brands including Porsche and Bulgari. The former member of South Korean boy band EXO has denied the accusation, which drew an outpouring of online support for the woman and criticism of Wu. On Friday, Louis Vuitton became the latest brand to end its contract with Wu. A man who saw rumors about the incident online contacted the woman
Ethiopia’s Afar region on Friday called on civilians to take up arms against rebels from neighboring Tigray, signaling a potential escalation in fighting that has already displaced tens of thousands this week. “Every Afar should protect their land with any means available, whether by guns, sticks or stones,” regional President Awol Arba said in an interview aired by regional state media. “No weapons can make us kneel down. We will win this war with our strong determination.” Tigrayan rebels launched operations in Afar last weekend, saying they were targeting pro-government troops massing along the two regions’ shared border. A government official said on
Buried in a long US indictment accusing China of a global cyberespionage campaign was a curious detail: Among the governments targeted by Chinese hackers was Cambodia, one of Beijing’s most loyal Asian allies. The target of the hack, which two sources with knowledge of the indictment said was the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, was also revealing: discussions between China and Cambodia over the use of the Mekong River, a new battleground for US and Chinese influence in Southeast Asia. Four Chinese — three security officials and a contract hacker — have been charged for attacks aimed at dozens