China launches its longest manned space mission

Beijing: China launched its longest manned space mission by sending two astronauts into orbit for a month aboard a space laboratory on Monday. The main aim of this mission is to have a permanent space station in service by 2022.

China’s Shenzhou 11 “heavenly vessel” was launched on a Long March rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

This is China’s longest-ever crewed space mission. On board are two astronauts — Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong — who will dock with the Tiangong-2 space lab, which was launched last month.

Jing and Chen will remain in space for a total of 33 days, with 30 of those spent conducting experiments related to medicine, physics and biology in the space lab.

China aims to send its space station into orbit two years before the International Space Station (ISS) retires in 2024.

Once the ISS goes out of service, China potentially will be the only country with a permanent space presence.

The US Congress has barred NASA from contact with China’s space program since 2011 due to national security concrens.

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