Just in time, the Long-March 2F rocket left the launch pad at Jiuquan Space Launch Center at 9:22 a.m. (1:22 a.m. GMT), in the Gobi Desert (Northwest), before settling into orbit. .
This is the first manned flight to China in nearly five years and a time record in space in the perspective of the Asian giant: The three astronauts, whose names were not revealed until Wednesday, must remain three months in orbit.
In the context of tension with the West, the success of the mission is a matter of prestige for Beijing preparing to celebrate the 1 للاحتفالhe is July Centenary of the Chinese Communist Party.
The Shenzhou-12 spacecraft, launched Thursday, must dock with the only unit from the station already in space. National television channel CCTV reported that the docking could take place six hours after the shooting.
Closed-circuit television broadcast footage of smiling astronauts lifting their masks after entering orbit, while a pencil floated in zero gravity.
“The solar panels have been deployed normally and we can say that this launch is successful,” said Zhang Zhifen, director of the launch center.
The control center and home for astronauts, the Tianhe module at the end of April was placed in low Earth orbit (at an altitude of 350-390 km).
On board, the astronauts will not be idle: maintenance, equipment installation, spacewalks, preparation for upcoming construction missions and accommodation of future crews.
The national dimension
The Chinese space station called Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace”), when completed, will be similar in size to the former Soviet Mir station (1986-2001). She will be at least ten years old.
The Shenzhou-12 mission is the third launch of the 11 that will be required to build the station between 2021 and 2022. Altogether, four manned missions are planned.
In addition to the already existing Tianhe, the remaining two units (which will be laboratories) should be sent into space in 2022. This will allow experiments in biotechnology, medicine, astronomy or even space technologies.
China decided to build its own space station after the United States refused to allow it to participate in the International Space Station (ISS).
The latter – which brings together the US, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan – is due to retire in 2024, although NASA has mentioned a possible extension beyond 2028.
“We are ready to cooperate with any country committed to the peaceful use of outer space,” Ji Qiming, a senior official with China’s Manned Aviation Agency said on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, French astronaut Thomas Pesquet and his American colleague Shane Kimbrough took an undisturbed spacewalk of more than seven hours to deploy a next-generation solar panel outside the International Space Station.
Just before leaving, the expedition leader Ni Haisheng, accompanied by Liu Beoming and Tang Hongbo, bid farewell to their relatives and colleagues in a celebration with strong patriotic content in which an ancient revolutionary crisis was echoed. “.
The trio underwent more than 6,000 hours of training, including falling into the pool in space suits, in order to get a feel for weight-free riding.
“We have struggled every minute to realize our dream of space,” said Liu Buming. “I trained by dedicating myself to the cause.”
In their capsule, the three soldiers will have a choice of 120 types of foods at meal time, and they will be able to train on a treadmill to keep fit.