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Shenzhou-12: China launches first astronauts to new space station

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    Science & Technology
  • Published
    18th Jun, 2021


China launched the Long March-2F Y12 rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft and three astronauts, from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center for the country's first manned mission to build its space station.

About Shenzhou-12

  • The Shenzhou-12 is also known as "Divine Vessel"
    • It was launched with a Long March 2F rocket.
    • Shenzhou-12 is the third of 11 missions - four of which will be crewed - needed to complete China's first full-fledged space station.
    • It will be used to test the module's technologies including its life-support system.
    • This will be the first crewed flight in the space station (construction) phase.
  • Since 2003, China has launched six crewed missions and sent 11 astronauts into space.

China’s space station

  • The Tiangong (meaning ‘Heaven’s Palace’) program was started in 1992.
  • The current orbiting module is the core component of the Tiangong-3 space station, which is the third and final functional version of the station.
  • It will weigh 66,000 kg and begin operations by 2022 at an orbit of about 350-450 km.
  • The space station will be assembled and operated entirely by one nation, unlike the International Space Station (ISS).
  • Its design contains multiple modules, including the Tianhe core module, with science labs.
  • The dockableShenzhou crew capsule or lifeboat and the Tianzhou robotic cargo ship will also be a part of the station on either end of the core module.
    • Three astronauts will travel in the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft.