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.
- 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.