A Long March-2F carrier rocket carrying China's Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft blasted off Monday into space. The spacecraft takes two male astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong to the orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 within two days.
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The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft was launched at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gobi desert at 7:30 a.m. Beijing Time.
The Chinese astronauts will stay in the space lab for 30 days. At the end of their stay on the small space station, the Shenzhou-11 spaceship will separate with Tiangong-2 and return to Earth within one day.
UPDATE: China's manned spacecraft #Shenzhou11 enters designated orbit and will dock with space lab #Tiangong2 later https://t.co/T4eQ3ltUmU pic.twitter.com/jTIsYFUu7R— China Xinhua News (@XHNews) October 17, 2016
The mission aims to transport personnel and materials between Earth and Tiangong-2, and examine rendezvous, docking and return technologies.
The Shenzhou-11 will extend Tiangong-2 to support the astronauts' life, work and health, and astronauts' abilities for carrying out flight missions will be tested.
Other objectives include conducting aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance with human participation, along with activities to popularize scientific knowledge. This mission is a big deal for China an the world. China might end up as the only country with a permanent space station by 2024.