China launches longest space mission

Dhaka,  Tue,  25 October 2016
Published : 17 Oct 2016, 09:56:08 | Updated : 17 Oct 2016, 10:02:18

China's Shenzhou 11 blasts off on space station mission carrying two astronauts

China has launched two men into orbit in a project designed to develop its ability to explore space.

The astronauts took off on Monday morning from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northern China, reports BBC.

They will dock with the experimental Tiangong 2 space lab and spend 30 days there, the longest stay in space by Chinese astronauts.

This and previous launches are seen as pointers to possible crewed missions to the Moon or Mars.

An earlier Tiangong - or Heavenly Palace - space station was decommissioned earlier this year after docking with three rockets.

The astronauts on this latest mission were Jing Haipeng, 49, who has already been to space twice, and 37-year-old Chen Dong.

While on board, the pair will carry out experiments including an examination of plant growth in space. They'll also use ultrasound equipment to test their own bodies.

This mission is considered as a source of national pride in China. Hence, this time they even allowed the foreign media into its military base to view the launch.

The spacecraft, Shenzhou-11, took off from at 07:30 local time on Monday (23:30 GMT), lifted by a Long March-2F rocket.

- TM
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