China’s Shenzhou-11 docks with Tiangong-2 module for month-long stay

The Long March 7 rocket carrying the Tiangong-2 module blasts off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China's Gansu Province, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016. China has launched its second space station in a sign of the growing sophistication of its military-backed program that intends to send a mission to Mars in the coming years. (Chinatopix via AP)

Developing China’s capabilities as a space power, two Chinese astronauts have arrived at the Tiangong 2 space laboratory.
The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, with two astronauts on board, blasted off from northern China on Monday, and docked with Tiangong 2 at 03:24 Beijing time (19:24 GMT Tuesday).

The astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will be spending the next 30 days in space conducting experiments, test equipment, practice repairs, try to grow plants, and keep track of how the space environment affects their bodies. 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.

China is the third country, after the United States and Russia, to carry out its own crewed missions. The Shenzhou-11 is its sixth.

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