China launched the Shenzhou-16 spacecraft with a crew of three astronauts to its newly built space station for the second in-orbit crew rotation, marking yet another advancement for the country’s space program — comes at a time when the US is waging a technology war against Beijing.
Bloomberg reported a Long March 2F rocket propelled three astronauts to the Tiangong space station on Tuesday morning from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.
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The crew – Gui Haichao, Jing Haipeng, and Zhu Yangzhu will relieve Shenzhou-15 astronauts who have been orbiting the Earth in the Tiangong space station since November. State media said Shenzhou-16 astronauts are expected to arrive at the station later today.
Tuesday marks China’s fifth crewed mission to its T-shaped space station since 2021. The new station is a three-module structure and was constructed in orbit.
China had a series of achievements in space, including being the first country to land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon in 2019, landing a rover on Mars in 2021, and constructing the Tiangong space station over the last few years.
In its press conference Monday, China Manned Space Agency official Lin Xiqiang told reporters the country plans to send astronauts to the moon by 2030.
China has said it will open the Tiangong space station to all UN member states for “science experiments.” It hopes its station will outlast the International Space Station, which is set to be decommissioned in the early 2030s. Chinese astronauts are currently banned from the ISS.
The US and China are locked in another race, this time in space.