As Astronauts Dock, China Takes Up Long-Term Residence in Orbit
Three Chinese astronauts arrived at China’s under-construction space station on Thursday. The arrival begins what China’s government is expecting to be a decade of presence by Chinese astronauts in orbit. The astronauts docked in spacecraft, Shenzhou-12, after six hours and 32 minutes after blast off in the Gobi Desert. The Chinese space station, Tiangong, is the second populated outpost in Earth’s orbit. The Chinese space program is building the station independently, but has invited other countries to contribute experiments.
Tiangong is expected to be completed by the end of next year. The Chinese space program has completed missions to bring samples back from the moon and landing a robotic rover on Mars. The launch on Thursday was shown on live television, a show of confidence by the Chinese government in their space program.