Shenzhou-12 delivers first crew to Tianhe module

Beijing, June 17 (Agency) China on Thursday launched three astronauts into orbit who will occupy the country’s new space station. The three astronauts – Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo – will be spending three months aboard the Tianhe module some 380km (236 miles) above the Earth, BBC reported.

It will be China’s longest crewed space mission to date and the first in nearly five years. The crew successfully docked with the space station just over seven hours after the launch. and the moment of contact was applauded at the mission control in China. Their Shenzhou-12 capsule took off atop its Long March 2F rocket on Thursday and the lift-off took place from the Jiuquan satellite launch centre in the Gobi desert was at 09:22 Beijing time (01:22 GMT).

The launch and subsequent mission are another demonstration of China’s growing confidence and capability in the space domain. In the past six months, the country has returned rock and soil samples to Earth from the surface of the Moon, and landed a six-wheeled robot on Mars – both highly complex and challenging endeavours.