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Chinas spacecraft crew steps into space station


The Shenzhou XIII mission crew entered the Tiangong space station on Saturday morning, embarking on their six-month journey inside the station in the countrys longest spaceflight.

The three-member crew — mission commander Major General Zhai Zhigang, Senior Colonel Wang Yaping and Senior Colonel Ye Guangfu — floated into the station's core module, named Tianhe, or Harmony of Heavens, at 9:58 am, around three hours after their spacecraft docked with the module, which is the first and central section of the permanent space station — Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace.

Their Shenzhou XIII spacecraft was lifted by a Long March 2F carrier rocket that blasted off at 12:23 am at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China's Gobi Desert.

During their flight, the astronauts are tasked with a wide range of assignments, such as performing two to three spacewalks to install a small robotic arm onto a larger one; verifying key procedures and technologies like manual control of the robotic arms and robotic arm-assisted movement of station modules; checking the performance and capability of devices inside the station; and testing support instruments for astronauts' life and work in long-term flights, according to Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency.

The astronauts will conduct scientific experiments and technology demonstrations in space medicine, microgravity physics and other fields. They will also deliver educational lectures that will be televised for Chinese students, the official said.

Shenzhou XIII is the fourth spacecraft to visit the Tiangong station and the second crewed ship to transport astronauts to the orbiting outpost.

Chinas spacecraft crew steps into space station

The mission is expected to become the longest crewed spaceflight by China, doubling the time spent in the Shenzhou XII mission. It will also see the first spacewalk by a Chinese woman.

Mother of a 5-year-old girl, Wang is China's second female astronaut to take part in a spaceflight. She took part in the Shenzhou X mission in June 2013. In the Shenzhou XIII flight, she will become the first Chinese woman to enter a space station and also the first Chinese woman to carry out a spacewalk.

One of China's most challenging and sophisticated space endeavors, Tiangong will eventually consist of three main components-the Tianhe core module attached to two large space labs-with a combined weight of nearly 70 metric tons. The entire station is set to operate for about 15 years in a low-Earth orbit about 400 kilometers above the planet.

Published : October 17, 2021

By : China Daily