China to send humans to space after 5 years gap
A crew of three to spend three months in space after blasting off aboard Long March rocket in the coming days.
Their mission, Shenzhou-12, is conducted in preparation for the Chinese Tiangong space station which is set to become operational in 2022.
China has not sent people into space since Shenzhou-11, which was launched in September 2016.
The identities of the three taikonauts – an informal name of Chinese astronauts – are not yet revealed. They will live on Tianhe, the core module of the upcoming space station, which was launched in April 2021.
The new mission is also set to become China’s longest, as the crew of Shenzhou-11 stayed in orbit only for 33 days – nearly three times less than the planned duration of the Shenzhou-12.
The preliminary launch date for the new mission is June 17, 2021. The Long March 2F rocket is going to lift off from Jiuquan spaceport in the Gobi desert, Inner Mongolia.
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