China space mission

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China has launched a rocket to its new space station, state news agency Xinhua reports. Three astronauts are part of the crew.

The space shuttle took off from the Jiuquan Launch Center in northwest China’s Gobi Desert. The team plans to spend six months at the Tiangong space station. They are tasked with deploying equipment and testing technology for future construction at Tiangong. The previous mission spent three months in space.

The mission commander, 55-year-old Zhai Zhigang, is a former fighter pilot who was part of China’s first space mission in 2008. He said the team will carry out “more complex” operations in space than previous missions. The astronaut team includes military pilot Wang Yaping, 41, who will become the first woman to visit the Chinese space station. In 2013, she became the second Chinese woman to travel in space.

The other member of the team is Ye Guangfu, a 41-year-old pilot from the People’s Liberation Army.

The space program of the People’s Republic of China is directed by the China National Space Administration (CNSA).

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