The Shenzhou 14 crew will spend six months aboard Tiangong Station, where they will oversee the addition of two modular labs to China’s Tianhe Station, which went into orbit in April 2021.
The space shuttle lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center located on the edge of the Gobi Desert at 10:44 a.m. local time, powered by the power of the Long March 2F rocket.
Just 15 minutes later, the shuttle had reached Earth orbit and started to open its solar panels, which sparked applause in control rooms in Jiuquan and Beijing.
Three modules to assemble
Commander Chen Dong and his colleagues Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe will have to assemble a structure in three modules intended to be added to the current Tianhe station. The two parts named Wentian and Mengtian are due to arrive in July and October respectively. Another cargo shuttle, the Tianzhou 3, remained stuck at the station.
These new modules should provide
more stability, more power and better equipmentdescribed Chen, 43, who was a member of the Shenzhou 11 mission in 2016.
Liu, 43, is also an experienced taikonaut. She became the first female taikonaut to reach space aboard the Shenzhou 9 mission in 2012. In the case of Cai, 46, this is her space baptism.
The Chinese program sent its first astronaut into space in 2003, becoming the third country, after the Soviet Union and the United States, to send its own astronauts into space.
China’s space program is run by the People’s Liberation Army, which prompted the United States to exclude China from the International Space Station.