China plans to complete the space station with the latest mission

BEIJING — China is preparing to launch a new three-person mission to complete work on its permanent orbiting space station, the country’s China Manned Space Agency said on Saturday.

The Shenzhou 14 crew will spend six months at Tiangong Station, during which time they will oversee the addition of two laboratory modules to complement Tianhe’s main living quarters, launched in April 2021.

Their spacecraft is scheduled to lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert around 10:44 a.m. local time (0244 GMT) on Sunday morning, the agency said.

Commander Chen Dong and fellow astronauts Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe will assemble the three-module structure connecting the existing Tianhe with Wentian and Mengtian, due to arrive in July and October. Another cargo ship, the Tianzhou-3, remains docked at the station.

China’s space program sent its first astronaut into orbit in 2003, making China the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to do so under its own steam


It has landed robotic rovers on the moon and placed one on Mars last year. China has also returned lunar samples and officials have discussed a possible manned mission to the moon.

China’s space program is being run by the ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, prompting the US to bar it from the International Space Station.

Chen, Liu and Cai will be joined by the crew of the upcoming Shenzhou 15 for three to five days at the end of their mission, marking the first time the station has had six people on board.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. China plans to complete the space station with the latest mission

Sarah Y. Kim

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