“There will soon be two places in orbit where astronauts live.
On a clear, sunny Thursday morning in the Gobi Desert, China launched three astronauts to rendezvous with the country’s nascent space station.
They waved to cameras in their capsule as their trip to space began. Twenty-one minutes into the mission, the director of the launch center, Zhang Zhifen, announced that it was “a complete success.”If all now goes according to plan, they will rendezvous with China’s nascent space station later in the day, beginning what is planned to be a continuous Chinese presence in Earth’s orbit for at least the next decade.
The space station, called Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, joins the International Space Station, the project led by the United States and Russia that has been steadily occupied for more than two decades.
Thursday’s launch is the third of 11 missions planned to complete construction of China’s first long-term outpost in space before the end of next year.
In China, the construction of the space station has been treated with unusually public fanfare, a reflection of growing confidence by the country’s leadership in its space missions, which have achieved a number of major successes in recent months.
The launch of China’s space station comes at a time when Russia and the United States are squabbling over the future of the International Space Station, and as China and Russia are growing closer in space cooperation…..”
View the whole story here: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/16/science/china-launch-space-station.html