China’s Shenzhou-13 manned spacecraft with three astronauts successfully reached the designated orbit in the small hours on Saturday, China’s manned spaceflight program administration said, Trend reports citing TASS.
The spaceship will soon be docked to the national space station.
A Changzheng (Long March) 2F carrier rocket was launched from the Jiuquan launch center in the country's north at 00:23 a.m. Saturday local time (8:25 p.m. GMT+4).
The current manned launch is the second this year. The astronauts will stay in orbit during six months or twice as long as the previous time.
On September 20, China launched the Tianzhou-3 cargo spacecraft to deliver food, propellant, spacesuits for spacewalks and other materials for the crew of the Shenzhou-13 manned spaceship.
In April, China orbited the core module of its national space station. Three crewmembers of the Shenzhou-12 manned spacecraft worked aboard the national space station from June 17 to September 16. Over this period, the taikonauts (the name of spaceflight participants accepted in China) made two spacewalks to assemble equipment.
Overall, the assembly of all of the space station’s systems will require about twelve months and will be completed in 2022. China’s space station will have a mass of over 90 tonnes and accommodate three astronauts and up to six people upon a crew change. The space station will have a service life of about ten years.
After the basic elements of the Chinese space station are formed, China will orbit the Xuntian autonomous module with an optical telescope. Its mirror will have a diameter of two meters. The module will be furnished with its own thrusters and is expected to dock to the space station intermittently for repairs, refueling and equipment maintenance.