China sends two as­tro­nauts to space lab

The Myanmar Times - - World -

CHINA launched two as­tro­nauts into space yes­ter­day on a mis­sion to its or­bit­ing lab­o­ra­tory as the coun­try works to­ward set­ting up its own space sta­tion.

The Shen­zhou-11 space­craft blasted off early in the morn­ing from the Ji­uquan Satel­lite Launch Cen­tre in the Gobi desert, the of­fi­cial Xin­hua news agency re­ported.

As­tro­nauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will take two days to reach the Tian­gong-2 space lab, or “Heav­enly Palace-2”, which was launched in Septem­ber.

They will re­main on board for 30 days – the long­est stay thus far by Chi­nese as­tro­nauts – to con­duct tests on space­craft-re­lated tech­nolo­gies and sci­en­tific and en­gi­neer­ing ex­per­i­ments.

Mr Jing, the mis­sion com­man­der, is on his third trip into or­bit and will cel­e­brate his 50th birth­day in space.

“Al­though the job is chal­leng­ing, risky and dan­ger­ous, there is noth­ing else I’d rather do,” he said, ac­cord­ing to the China Daily.

China is pour­ing bil­lions into its mil­i­tary-run space pro­gram and work­ing to catch up with the US and Europe, with hopes to have a crewed out­post by 2022.

Bei­jing sees the pro­gram as sym­bol­is­ing the coun­try’s progress and a marker of its ris­ing global stature, but so far China has largely repli­cated ac­tiv­i­ties that the US and Soviet Union pi­o­neered decades ago.

Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping sent a con­grat­u­la­tory mes­sage to the mis­sion yes­ter­day, urg­ing them to aim at tak­ing great leaps for the Chi­nese na­tion, Xin­hua said.

The mis­sion should work to en­sure “the Chi­nese peo­ple will take big­ger steps and march fur­ther” in space, and con­trib­ute “to the build­ing of China into a space power”, Xin­hua cited him as say­ing.

The Tian­gong-2 lab is in or­bit 393 kilo­me­tres (244 miles) above Earth and has two cab­ins – a her­met­i­cally sealed ex­per­i­ment cham­ber that dou­bles as the liv­ing quar­ters, and a re­sources store hold­ing sup­plies such as so­lar pan­els, en­gines and bat­ter­ies.

The two as­tro­nauts on the

Shen­zhou-11 (“Di­vine Ves­sel”) mis­sion will test their own health in zero grav­ity, cul­ti­vate rice sam­ples, and con­duct re­search on cold atomic space clocks that use laser cool­ing tech­nol­ogy to im­prove ac­cu­racy, among other projects, China Daily said.

“We pre­pared more than 100 kinds of food and bev­er­ages for them in space,” deputy di­rec­tor of China’s manned space en­gi­neer­ing of­fice Wu Ping told the pa­per, adding that the as­tro­nauts they had ac­cess to a tread­mill and and ex­er­cise bike. –

As­tro­nauts Jin Haipeng (left) and Chen Dong wave dur­ing a farewell cer­e­mony be­fore the launch of the Shen­zhou-11 space­craft at the Ji­uguan Satel­lite Laung Cen­tre in Ji­uquan, Gansu prov­ince, China, yes­ter­day.

Photo: EPA

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