space travel


Chinese astronauts embark on nation’s longest space mission

PUBLISHED Sun, October 16, 2016 - 8:26pm EDT
Credit: CCTV

China has launched a manned spacecraft from the Gobi desert, marking the start of the country's longest-ever space mission to test a space laboratory that was recently launched. It is part of China's plan to create its own space station.

The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, carried on the back of a Long March-2F rocket, blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert just after 7:30 a.m. local time on Monday. It entered its designated orbit a short time later without any sign of trouble.

Two astronauts - Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong - are on board the spacecraft and will dock with Tiangong-2, which means "Heavenly Palace 2" and was launched just last month. The crew is expected to stay on board for about a month, making it China's longest-ever space mission.

Tiangong-2 is China's second step towards an independent space station and is capable of receiving both manned and unmanned spacecraft, but the main purpose of the space lab is to test its systems and processes for mid-term space stays and refueling.

The space lab underwent several weeks of testing before the go-ahead was given for Monday's launch. In addition to testing the lab's systems, the astronauts will also carry out a number of scientific experiments.

The space lab replaces the Tiangong-1 space station prototype, which launched in September 2011 but retired from service earlier this year. China hopes to launch the core module for its permanent space station in 2018, followed by the first laboratory module in 2020 and the second one in 2022.

Tiangong-2 has the capacity to support a crew of two for 30 days, but the permanent station will be equipped to support three astronauts - or taikonauts as they are called in China - for about 40 days.

China is banned from using the International Space Station (ISS) as a result of opposition from the United States, and the exclusion was set in stone in 2011 when the U.S. Congress passed a law that bans scientific collaboration with China over alleged espionage risks.

  China        14 UPDATES





More Updates

 2 wks   SpaceX investigating possible sabotage of Falcon 9 rocket

              SpaceX is no stranger to exploding rockets. Just last month, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded on the launchpad during a pre-flight test. The cause of the explosion isn't clear yet, but there's a bizarre twist in the investigation. It sounds like something out of a movie, but SpaceX has some questions about a building near the launchpad owned by competitor United Launch Alliance. Several sources who spoke with The Post say that SpaceX investigators have images of the ULA building during the incident which show an odd shadow and white spot on the roof. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has called the launchpad explosion "the most difficult and complex failure we have ever had in 14 years."

  Florida        14 UPDATES


 1 mon   China launches space lab on road to independent space station

              China has successfully launched the Tiangong-2 space laboratory, embarking on the second step of China's plan to create an independent space station, officials say. A manned mission is scheduled for next month. (more) Read More

  China        14 UPDATES


 1 mon   Explosion rocks Space X launch site at Cape Canaveral; no injuries reported

              An explosion rocked the launch site for Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral in Florida on Thursday and black smoke could be seen rising into the air from the facility. No injuries were reported following the blast, officials say. The area had already been cleared ahead of pre-launch test. Video: James Valles reporting (BNO News)

  Cape Canaveral, FL        14 UPDATES




Indonesia earthquake: 6.5 tremor strikes off Java     4 days  

Shooting at University of Cincinnati prompts lockdown, no injuries     5 days  

Missouri and Kansas Amber Alert: Amiya Morris abducted from Liberty     6 days  

Former New York Jets player Dennis Byrd dead at 50     1 wk  

Evacuation at Willowbrook Mall in Wayne, New Jersey     1 wk  


email alerts

Just want the important news? Sign up now for the fastest email alerts from BNO News. Click here to get started!

Happening Now

AT&T to acquire Time Warner for $85 billion in media mega-deal     20 hrs  

Strong earthquake strikes western Japan, injuring at least 14     2 days  

Trump declines to say he will accept election result     3 days  

VIDEO: Clinton and Trump face off in final presidential debate     3 days  

Large gas explosion in Portland causes injuries     4 days  

Update List

SpaceX investigating possible sabotage of Falcon 9 rocket     2 wks  

China launches space lab on road to independent space station     1 mon  

Explosion rocks Space X launch site at Cape Canaveral; no injuries reported     1 mon  

RAW VIDEO: Expedition blasts off from Baikonur for the ISS     3 months  

RAW VIDEO: NASA tests the motor of the largest, most powerful booster in the world      4 months  

More World

Strong earthquake strikes western Japan, injuring at least 14     2 days  

Gunman kills 2 Americans near coalition base in Kabul     4 days  

Ecuador cuts Assange’s internet access for interfering in U.S. election     4 days  

Saudi Arabia beheads Prince Al-Kabeer for fatal shooting     4 days  

4 people found dead at home in Sydney suburb of Davidson     6 days