Shenzhou XIV mission blasts off

China on Sunday launched the crewed spaceship Shenzhou-14, sending three astronauts to its space station combination for a six-month mission.

The trio will cooperate with the ground team to complete the assembly and construction of the Tiangong space station, developing it from a single-module structure into a national space laboratory with three modules — the core module Tianhe and two lab modules Wentian and Mengtian.

The spaceship, atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket, was lift off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).

The crew will work with the ground team to complete the rendezvous, docking and transposition of the two lab modules with the core module, said Lin Xiqiang, deputy director of the CMSA, at a press conference Saturday.

The Tianhe core module was launched in April 2021, and the Wentian lab module is set to be launched in July and Mengtian in October.

The Shenzhou-14 crew will also witness, during their stay in orbit, the Tianzhou-5 cargo craft and Shenzhou-15 crewed spaceship dock with the core module. Then, they will live and work together with the Shenzhou-15 crew for multiple days before returning back to Earth in December.

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