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Beijing launches manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11
October 17, 2016, 11:00 am

 The spacecraft will dock with orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 within two days, and the astronauts will stay in the space lab for 30 days [Xinhua]


The spacecraft will dock with orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 within two days, and the astronauts will stay in the space lab for 30 days [Xinhua]


China has launched a two-man space mission called Shenzhou 11, officials with the space program said on Monday.

This brings the country closer to its target of setting up a permanent manned space station by 2022.

The Shenzhou 11 took off on a Long March rocket at 7:30 am (2330 GMT) from the Jiuquan launch site in the Gobi desert,

The spacecraft will dock with orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 within two days, and the astronauts will stay in the space lab for 30 days, said Deputy Director of the Manned Space Engineering Office Wu Ping. This is China’s longest manned space mission so far.

The mission will test whether the space lab and craft are capable of supporting astronauts’ life, as well as aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance with human participation, Chinese media reported.

While China to date has focused on near-Earth space exploration, future missions will be bigger and go farther than 400 km (249 miles), said Zhang Yulin, an official with the space program and the Central Military Commission.

China has spent billions on the space industry and space technology over the past decade to compete with American and Russian space programs, as well as other Asian rivals like India and Japan.

China plans to send a rover to Mars around 2020, and land by 2021, to explore the Red Planet and launch 150 long range carrier rockets in the next five years for its ambitious space missions.

The Administration’s director Xu Dazhe had previously said: “The Mars probe is expected to orbit the red planet, land and deploy a rover all in one mission, which is quite difficult to achieve.”

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