China sent two astronauts into orbit on Monday in what is hailed as the country’s longest space mission.
As part of the mission, the astronauts will spend a month aboard a space laboratory. China plans to establish a permanent manned space station in service by 2022.
China Space Station: Manned space station expected to be in service by 2022
On Monday, the Shenzhou 11 took off on a Long March rocket from its launch site in Jiuquan, in the Gobi desert. As reported by Reuters, the astronauts will dock on the Tiangong 2 space laboratory that was blasted off into space last month.
While China strives to expand its space capabilities, the United States Defense Department said it was “pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations using space-based assets in a crisis.” China has said it is elaborating its space program for military, commercial and scientific purposes.
China’s recent space program, as part of its endeavor to assert itself as a space power, has been considered a priority for Beijing. The country has said the space program is being carried out for peaceful purposes.
While China plans to launch the core module of its space station in 2018, it will look to have it in service by 2022.
China Space Station: ‘We launched more than 20 cooperation projects with the Russian space agency’
In 2013, China sent the Yutu (Jade Rabbit) rover to the Moon as part of the several scientific missions it has carried out. The rover is credited for being the first to have landed on the Earth’s satellite since 1970s.
“Since the start of the Chinese manned space program, we launched more than 20 cooperation projects with the Russian space agency and achieved constructive results,” Wu Ping, deputy director of China’s manned space engineering office, said, as reported by Sputnik News.
“In future, during construction of the space station we hope for deepening cooperation and exchanges with Russia in the sphere of choosing and training cosmonauts, conducting scientific experiments and others.”