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Three astronauts blasted off to China’s nearing completion space station on Tuesday, marking the beginning of the country’s long-term presence in space.
It’s a major achievement for China’s ambitious space program, which has explored the far side of the Moon and Mars. the teacher It also means the International Space Station’s longstanding role as the only place for continuous human Occupancy in Earth’s orbit is coming to an end.
The three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-15 spacecraft blasted off at 11:08 p.m. local time (10:08 a.m. ET) on Tuesday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, Inner Mongolia. The Shenzhou-15 spacecraft is expected to dock with the Tiangong space station about 6.5 hours after launch.
The arrival of the three astronauts – Fei Junlong, Deng Qingming and Zhang Le – will be the first crew rotation on the space station, with the two teams overlapping for five to 10 days before the Shenzhou-14 crew, which touched down at the station in June. , returns to Earth.
The Shenzhou-15 mission will finish the construction of the expected orbital site by the end of December, and launch the first stage of its “application and development,” said Ji Qiming, assistant director of the China Manned Space Agency, at a press conference on Tuesday. Monday, according to state media Xinhua.
During the mission, according to state media, the crew will also conduct more than 40 experiments and tests in the areas of space science research, space medicine and space technology, as well as three to four extravehicular activities – to be carried out by astronauts in spacesuits.
Once construction is complete, the space station is expected to last 15 years. China plans to launch two crewed and two cargo missions to the station each year, according to CMSA.
Tiangong, which means Heavenly Palace, is smaller than the International Space Station but similar in its modular design. The new space station will house three astronauts instead of six.
NASA officials said it would The International Space Station is retireda collaboration between the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency, in the year 2030.
but, Russia has threatened to withdraw from the International Space Station, starting in 2024It would make the International Space Station difficult to operate, said Dr. Stefania Paladini, Reader in Global Economics and Security at Birmingham City University in the UK.
“There is no clarity about the future of the International Space Station beyond 2024. While the United States appears committed to extending its life until 2030, Russia has threatened to withdraw its participation after that date, (which would make it) Paladini, author of The New Frontiers of Space: Economic Implications, Security Issues, and Evolving Scenarios, said:
“The Chinese space station may end up remaining the only human presence in Earth orbit for some time.”
It is expected to host the new space station 1000 scientific experiments during its lifetime.
Most of the experiments aboard Tiangong will involve research originating in China, but from the country He called for experiments from international researchers, including how cancerous tumors might interact with zero gravity.
Chinese astronauts have long been excluded from the International Space Station, due to political objections and US legislative restrictions. However, the CMSA astronauts They trained with their counterparts at the European Space Agency.
It is not clear whether or not China will welcome astronauts from other countries to its space station Molly Silk, a doctoral researcher at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom who focuses on the Chinese space program, said she believes it is very likely that international astronauts will visit in the coming years.
Many European astronauts are learning Chinese in order to better cooperate with their Chinese counterparts, suggesting a CSS visit could be on the table. Pakistan is also trying to coordinate with China to send its first astronaut into space, she said.
This project shows the world that China has both the vision and the capabilities to accomplish such a challenging feat. CSS will not only allow China and other countries to conduct experiments in space, but will serve as an important checkpoint for China’s planned international research base on the Moon.”
Earlier this year, the space station’s two laboratory modules – Wentian and Mengtian – were docked along the Tianhe core cabin, the main living space for astronauts.
This is the fourth unsupervised return of the Long March 5B rocket since the Chinese space agency began flying it two years ago, as the craft was designed without the equipment needed to steer itself to a safe landing.
NASA officials have criticized China for taking unnecessary risks. However, Tuesday’s launch involved China’s smaller Long March-2F rocket, used for human spaceflight. What the experts said earlier Less likely to produce dangerous debris.
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