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China launches longest-ever manned space mission

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 China successfully launched a spacecraft carrying two astronauts, in its longest-ever manned space mission. This team would later join its experimental space lab orbiting the Earth as the country moved a step closer to establish its permanent space station by 2022.

About the mission :

China successfully launches the manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11, carrying two astronauts who will remain in space for 33 days, the longest manned mission in its space program to date.China launches longest-ever manned space mission

  • Shenzhou-11, China’s sixth manned spacecraft, will dock with space lab Tiangong-2, marking a step closer to the country’s space ambitions.
  • The Shenzhou-11 was put into orbit by a Long March-2F carrier rocket. It will dock with orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 in two days and the astronauts will stay in the lab for 30 days
  • It is noted that China, which conducted its first manned space mission in 2003, is putting in billions into its space programme in a bid to catch up with the US and Europe. It also plans to launch its maiden Mars mission in 2020 to match India and others.
  • The mission of the orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 and the Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft marks the first time that astronauts will stay in orbit for medium term.
  • President Xi Jinping, who is currently in Goa to attend the BRICS Summit, congratulated everyone engaged in the mission for the successful launch.
  • The space lab was launched last month as part of China’s efforts to set up its own manned space station by 2022, which will make it the only the country to have such a facility in service as the current in-service International Space Station (ISS) retires by 2024.
  • The Shenzhou-11 spaceship will return to Earth within a day after docking the two astronauts on Tiangong-2 space lab and separating from it.
  • The two astronauts will undertake ultrasound tests during space travel for the first time, cultivate plants in space, and test the three winners of an experiment design competition run in Hong Kong for secondary school students.
  • Several technical alterations have been made to Shenzhou- 11, though its main functions and technical parameters are basically the same as Shenzhou-10.
  • The space station has a designed life of 10 years in orbit 400 kms above the earth surface. With this space station, China will become the second country after Russia to have developed a space station.
  • China made a three-step strategy in 1992 for its manned space programme, the large-scale manned space station being the last step.