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Chinese astronauts reach new space station for three-month mission

China has sent its first astronaut to reach the space station on a 3-months mission.

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China has sent its first astronaut to reach the space station on a 3-months mission.

A Long March-2F rocket launched the three astronauts in the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, which docked with Tianhe, the main section of the Tiangong station, just over seven hours later.

The astronauts – Nie Haisheng, 56, Liu Boming 54, and Tang Hongbo, 45 – had earlier been honored in a modest ceremony at the Jiuquan satellite launch center. It is China’s first human mission to space since 2016, and the longest ever scheduled, with the team expected to be on Tiangong for three months. 

China started building Tiangong in April for its space missions. The launch is a matter of huge prestige in China, as Beijing prepares to mark the 100th anniversary of the ruling Communist Party on 1 July with a massive propaganda campaign.

US law bars Nasa from cooperating with Chinese astronauts, meaning none have ever been to the International Space Station (ISS), a collaboration between the US, Russia, Canada, Europe, and Japan. On Wednesday, officials said China expected foreign and Chinese astronauts to jointly participate in the Chinese space station.

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