On Thursday 17th June 2021, at 09:22 Beijing time (01:22 GMT), China launched three astronauts onboard their Shenzhou-12 capsule that successfully took off on top of the Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan satellite launch center located in the Gobi desert.
The three astronauts, Liu Boming, Tang Hongbo, and Nie Haisheng, will spend three months working on the Tianhe module, which was the first module of the new Chinese Tiangong space station that was launched into space at the end of April this year. This will be the longest crewed mission for Chinese astronauts in five years.
Recently, China has stepped up its space exploration program claiming a place at the table with the likes of the United States of America and Russia.
China’s moon mission returned samples in 2020
In December 2020, China successfully returned samples from the moon surface after a successful Chang’e 4 mission that was launched in December 2018 and landed on the South Pole-Aitken Basin of the moon in January 2019.
The Chang’e 4 mission included a lander and a rover and it followed the Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 missions, which launched lunar orbiters around the moon.
China’s mission to Mars
In May this year, China landed its first rover on Mars, making it the third country after Russia and the USA to do so.
The Chinese Rover called Zhurong joins two other rovers from NASA, the Perseverance rover and the Curiosity rover that are exploring the surface of the red planet.
Besides the rovers on the surface of Mars, several orbiters are circling the red planet. These orbiters include the recently United Arab Emirates’ Hope Orbiter that arrived In February this year.