Three Chinese astronauts aboard a spacecraft docked with China’s under-construction space station to meet with their colleagues. This made it the country’s first gathering of six astronauts in space.
China successfully launched a spacecraft carrying three astronauts, Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming, and Zhang Lu, to the International Space Station.
According to the China Manned Space Agency, the Shenzhou-15 spacecraft, atop the Long March-2F Y15 carrier rocket, launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.
The three space station occupants greeted the new three-member crew with warm hugs. Then they posed for a group photo following the successful docking. This is according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
According to the China Manned Space Agency, the space reunion kicked off the first in-orbit crew rotation in China’s space station (CMSA).
The six astronauts are scheduled to live and work together for about five days to complete planned tasks and handover work. After this the previous three-member crew will return to Earth.
China’s Shenzhou-15 manned spaceship successfully docked with the space station combination, according to the CMSA.
According to the spaceship, it performed a fast-automated rendezvous. It docked with the front port of the space station’s Tianhe module.
The entire procedure took about 6.5 hours. It is the first time that Chinese astronauts aboard the space station have seen a crewed spaceship.
The spaceship, atop the Long March-2F Y15 carrier rocket, took off from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China.
China intends to complete the space station by the end of this year. It is despite the increasing competition from the United States.
The Shenzhou-15 crew will conduct tests related to long-term residence in China’s space station’s three-module configuration during their six-month mission, according to Ji Qiming, CMSA assistant director.
This will be the final flight mission in the construction phase of China’s space station.
A Long March-2F carrier rocket was used for the launch.
The space station is expected to be completed by the end of this year, according to plans announced earlier by China.
China will be the only country with a space station once it is completed.
The Russian International Space Station (ISS) is a joint project of several countries.
The China Space Station (CSS) is also expected to compete with Russia’s ISS.
According to observers, once the ISS retires in the coming years, the CSS may be the only space station left in orbit.