"Divine Vessel" Rockets Chinese Astronauts To New Space Station

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by Tyler Durden
Thursday, Jun 17, 2021 - 08:20 PM

In the last month and a half, China has launched the core capsule of the new Tiangong space station and supplies. On Thursday, three astronauts were catapulted into low Earth orbit and successfully docked with the new space station launched in April, according to Nikkei

The trio of astronauts - Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming, and Tang Hongbo - were transported in the Shenzhou-12 or "divine vessel" spacecraft on top of a Long March 2F at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the country's northwestern Gobi Desert Thursday morning. By late afternoon local time, state broadcaster CCTV reported the craft had docked with the core capsule. 

Source: RTRS  

This is the first time China has launched humans into space in five years and the seventh since 2003. The country has been banned from the International Space Station (ISS) since 2011, when Congress, under the Obama administration, passed a law that prevented Americans from working with the Chinese space program due to national security risks. 

The three astronauts will be living on the 90-metric-ton T-shaped space station called Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, for 90 days. The new space station is still under construction as there are eight more missions to expand it. 

The launch was broadcast live on Chinese television and social media, attracting tens of millions of viewers.

This is another milestone for China as there are now two space stations operating in low Earth orbit. The ISS is nearing its working life, and Russia will soon withdraw from ISS cooperation in 2025

Another launch is set for September. That crew will replace the current trio onboard the space station.

For President Xi Jinping, the new space station represents power and his vision to dominate the world and space. 

The great power competition between the US and China, the two largest economies and largest military spenders, means space is becoming the next battleground.