China on Monday launched Shenzhou-11 spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi desert, carrying two astronauts as part of its longest-ever manned space mission.
Shenzhou-11 will dock with the Tiangong-2 space laboratory where the astronauts will live for 30 days and conduct a series of tests and experiments. According to reports, the mission forms part of China’s plans to build a full space station by 2022.
The astronauts on this latest mission were two-time space veteran Jing Haipeng, 49, and 37-year-old Chen Dong.
Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will spend 30 days in space after docking with space laboratory Tiangong-2, which was sent into orbit last month, where it is currently positioned 393 kilometers from Earth.
President Xi Jinping, who is currently visiting India, sent a message of congratulations for the successful launch.
“I hope of our comrades uphold the spirit of China’s manned space missions and do well in their subsequent tasks … and make new contributions enabling us to become a strong space power,” the message said.