China launched this Thursday (17) a rocket with three astronauts that will start building the Chinese Space Station. The Longa March-2F rocket successfully took off at 9:22 am local time in the Gobi Desert and reached orbit in 10 minutes. About seven hours later, the manned mission docked with complete success.
The aim is for astronauts to spend three months in the first module of the Tiangong station, which should have a useful life of at least 10 years in space. There, the three will perform scientific experiments, space “walks”, maintenance and, of course, the installation of two additional modules. Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo will be the first to live in the Chinese station. To commemorate the historic achievement, CCTV, a state-owned channel in the eastern country, aired images of the mission live.
It is the first time in five years that China has launched a manned mission. The feat marks yet another clash between the country and the United States, which are going through moments of diplomatic tension. That’s because the US government banned the presence of Chinese astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS). In the long term, China is working together with Russia to build a fixed and inhabited base on the Moon by 2035.