Three Chinese astronauts, or taikonauts, have docked at the under-construction Tiangong space station Sunday evening after launching from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert earlier in the day, according to Space.com.
LAUNCH! Long March 2F launches Shenzhou-14 from SLS-1 at Jiuquan, carrying three taikonauts to the Tiangong space station.— Chris Bergin - NSF (@NASASpaceflight) June 5, 2022
Overview:https://t.co/evZFEOrtuH - by Adrian Beil (@BCCarCounters)
The three Shenzhou 14 taikonauts — commander Chen Dong, Liu Yang, and Cai Xuzhe — will spend six months on the Tiangong, overseeing the addition of two laboratory modules (with the Wentian module set to launch next month and the Mengtian in October). When the modules are connected, Tiangong will be a T-shaped station smaller than the aging International Space Station (ISS).
Shenzhou 14 flight crew consisted of astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe pic.twitter.com/lExdQuKgyY— 曹 毅 CAO Yi أبو وسيم (@CaoYi_MFA) June 4, 2022
The trio of taikonauts will welcome Shenzhou 15 crew aboard the station at the end of the year, making the first time six people will be living aboard.
Here's a docking video of the spacecraft with the station.
Last month, China released a never-before-seen image of Tiangong, orbiting above the Earth at 250 miles.
The station's completion will mark President Xi Jinping's ambitions to be a leader in space as NASA is set to retire the aging ISS by 2031. This could mean China might have the only space station orbiting the Earth unless the US and its partners announce plans for a new station.