China has sent two of its astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, into space on Monday at 7:30am (23:30 GMT). The astronauts who took off in the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft will dock on China’s Tiangong-2 space lab in a couple of days and will stay at the lab for 30 days.
Shenzhou 11 astronaut Jing Haipeng told the press, “It is any astronaut’s dream and pursuit to be able to perform many space missions.” This is the third mission he has gone to. In fact, he will turn 50 while in space.
The Chinese astronauts’ mission will involve testing the space lab’s computer, its propulsion and life support systems as well as other experiments. These tests are necessary to prepare the lab for its core module, which will be launched in 2018.
This is the sixth time China has sent astronauts into space. China’s president Xi Jinping advised China’s astronauts to explore space more deeply and more broadly.
In 2013, China launched its first lunar probe. Chinese authorities have announced plans to launch another lunar probe in 2018, which they aim to land on the far side of the moon.
China has also announced plans to send an unmanned rover to the Red Planet by 2020. In 2025, China will send an astronaut to the moon.
Overall, China plans to launch 20 space missions this year.
Recently, Chinese officials revealed that they lost control of their first space laboratory, Tiangong 1. During a press conference on Sept. 14 in Jiuquan, they said that Tiangong 1 will fall in Earth’s atmosphere next year.
After spending six years in space, the space lab is expected to burn when it enters the planet. Chinese officials cannot predict where it will land but they said they will release an international forecast at a later date. Nevertheless, they reassure that Tiangong 1 will not affect any aviation activities or cause any damage to the ground.