The rocket that will send three crew members to start living on China's new orbiting space station has been moved onto the launch pad ahead of its planned blastoff next week. The three astronauts plan to spend three months on the space station doing spacewalks, construction and maintenance work and science experiments.
The main section of the Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, station was launched into orbit on April 29, and a cargo spacecraft sent up last month carried fuel, food and equipment to the station in preparation for the crewed mission.
The Long March-2F Y12 rocket carrying the Shenzhou-12 spaceship was transferred to the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Wednesday, the China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a brief statement.
The space agency plans a total of 11 launches through the end of next year to deliver two laboratory modules to expand the 70-ton station, along with supplies and crew members. Next week's launch will be the third of those, and the first of the four crewed missions planned.
[...] China said in March the astronauts training for the upcoming crewed missions were a mix of space travel veterans and newcomers and included some women. The first station crew will be all male, though women will be part of future crews, according to Yang Liwei, who orbited Earth in China's first crewed mission in 2003 and is now an official at the space agency.
China has launched three astronauts into orbit to begin occupation of the country's new space station.
The three men - Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo - are to spend three months aboard the Tianhe module some 380km (236 miles) above the Earth.
It will be China's longest crewed space mission to date and the first in nearly five years.
The crew successfully docked with the space station just over seven hours after the launch.
Russia and China unveiled a roadmap for a joint International Lunar Research Station Wednesday to guide collaboration and development of the project.
Chinese and Russian space officials revealed the plans June 16 at the Global Space Exploration (GLEX) conference in St. Petersburg, Russia, stating that the ILRS has received the interest of a number of countries and organizations.
Also at Washington Post.