Three magician The Chinese have arrived at the Taigong (Heavenly Palace) space station after a flight aboard a Long March 2F rocket that took off from the Jiuquan base in the Gobi desert.
The crew – made up of Chen Dong, Cai Xuzhe y Liu Yang | (Second woman to travel to Taigong) – aboard the Shenzhou 14 (Divine Ship) docked in the central module Tianhe (Celestial Harmony) of the space station in an automatic maneuver about seven hours after takeoff, this June 5. They will spend six months completing the construction of the Tiangong, according to Chinese state television CCTV.
The Chinese space authority described the launch as a “total success». This is the third crew that will live in the central module of the future space station.
A cargo flight carried materials and fuel into space in May in preparation for the Shenzhou 14 flight. Two more modules for the main part of the future station will be launched in July and October, reports DPA.
Another manned flight could take place in December, when six taikonauts would be temporarily on the space station.
The T-shaped station, which will ultimately weigh 66 tons, will be completed and begin regular operation at that time.
The Tiangong underpins China’s ambitions to become a space power, alongside the United States and Russia. China has already recorded space successes, becoming the first country to land a rover on the far side of the moon. And last year the Zhurong rover landed on Mars.
China is currently planning more missions to the Moon and Mars with the aim of challenging America’s dominance in space.
The term taikonaut derives from the Mandarin word for space, which is taikong, plus the Greek ending -nauta for traveler, and is based on the terms astronaut and cosmonaut.