China’s Shenzhou-13 spacecraft, which was carrying three astronauts, docked at its space station on Saturday (16/10), marking the start of a record-breaking six-month stay as the country moves to complete its outpost in orbit. The spacecraft was launched by a Long March-2F rocket, Saturday (16/10) morning, and docked with the Tianhe core module from the Tiangong space station about six and a half hours later.
The mission, with two men and one woman, is the second crew to stay on the space station, which launched last April. The first crew stayed for three months.
They will carry out three jobs in space: installing equipment in preparation for expanding the station, studying living conditions in the Tianhe module and conducting experiments in aerospace medicine and other fields.
China’s military-run space program plans to send a large crew to the station over the next two years to make it fully functional.
Earlier this year, the Chinese space probe, Tianwen-1, landed on Mars. China also wants to land humans on the moon – and perhaps build a scientific base there. [ka/rs]