China has launched two astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong on one of the longest manned space mission to its experimental space station. Both the astronauts were carried by the Shenzhou 11 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the North West China’s Gansu province on Monday, October 17, 2016. The duo will stay aboard the Tiangong 2 space station for a month in preparation for the assembly of a full facility six years from now.
The Shenzhou 11 will dock with Tiangong 2 space station within two days. China has ambitious plans to start an orbiting space outpost by the end of 2022. The huge rocket Long March lifted aloft the space capsule at 7.30 am from the remote launching site in the Gobi desert. The moment was showcased as the latest achievement by the Chinese nation and was broadcast live on the space Television across the nation.
The Tiangong 2 space laboratory “Heavenly Palace 2” was sent to space last month. It will be one of the longest stays by any Chinese astronaut in space. The Chinese Space program is a virtual arm of the powerful Chinese Military Commission and vice chairman Fan Changlong met the two Chinese astronauts and wished them well.
For Jing, it will be the third space voyage aboard the Shenzhou 11, and he will be the Commander of the mission. He will celebrate his 50th birthday aboard the Space Station in space. Earlier in 2013, three Chinese Astronauts spent a fortnight aboard the Tiangong 1 in which was to be the first manned mission aboard the space laboratory.
The advancement of the space program is a top priority of the Chinese government, and President Xi Jinping wants to be remembered for taking China into the 21st century and making it a superpower. China maintains that its space program is for peaceful purpose, something which is regarded with skepticism by US and other nations since the Chinese space program is controlled by the PLA.