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China's Shenzhou 11 docks at Tiangong 2 space station


China's Shenzhou 11 docks at Tiangong 2 space station

The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft blasted off from northern China on October 17, 2016 and docked with Tiangong 2 at 03:24 Beijing time (19:24 GMT 18).Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will be spending the next 30 days in space conducting experiments.It marks the longest space mission by Chinese astronauts.

The docking took place 393km (244 miles) above Earth and the remotely controlled procedure lasted about two hours, according to state media.China has absolutely massive ambitions in space: a more-permanent space station in the coming years, the possibility of manned trips to the Moon and even Mars, not to mention operating the world's largest radio telescope.The cost of China's space programme is astronomical, yet you would struggle to find an ordinary citizen here to complain about the outlay.When we visited the launch centre earlier this week to watch these astronauts blast off on their way to Tiangong 2, we passed huge billboards at the main gates featuring images of Chinese President Xi Jinping giving himself a little clap, with rockets taking off in the background.

China is the third country, after the United States and Russia, to carry out its own crewed missions. The Shenzhou-11 is its sixth.It plans to create its own permanent space station by 2022 following its exclusion from the International Space Station. It will expand Tiangong 2 over the next few years by sending up additional modules.China has poured significant funding and efforts into its space programme, and plans to launch at least 20 space missions this year.


Source: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-37700404

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