China launches second crewed mission
GS Paper - 3 (Space Technology)
China launched a rocket carrying three astronauts - two men and one woman - to the core module of a future space station where they will live and work for six months, the longest orbit for Chinese astronauts. A Long March-2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft, which means "Divine Vessel", blasted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwestern province of Gansu.
- China began constructing the space station in April with the launch of Tianhe - the first and largest of the station's three modules. Slightly bigger than a city bus, Tianhe will be the living quarters of the completed space station.
- Shenzhou-13 is the second of four crewed missions needed to complete the space station by the end of 2022.
- 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.
- China, barred by U.S. law from working with NASA and by extension on the International Space Station (ISS), has spent the past decade developing technologies to build its own.
- With the ISS set to retire in a few years, China's space station will become the only one in Earth's orbit.
- China became the third country to put a man in space with its own rocket, in October 2003, following the former Soviet Union and the United States.
- The Chinese space station Tiangong -- meaning "heavenly palace" -- will need a total of around 11 missions to bring more parts and assemble them in orbit.
- Once completed, it is expected to remain in low Earth orbit at between 400 and 450 kilometres (250 and 280 miles) above our planet for at least 10 years -- realising an ambition to maintain a long-term human presence in space.