hina’s Shenzhou-14 spacecraft lifted off atop a Long March 2 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu Province on June 5, carrying the latest crew of three to the Tiangong space station. It signals a new phase in the construction of the space station and its science labs.
The space station mission is planned to last six months, during which the three astronauts, Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe, are expected to conduct several space walks. The crew will welcome the two lab modules, Wentian, which will launch in July and Mengtian, set to launch in October, as well as the Tianzhou-5 cargo spacecraft.
Toward the end of the mission, China will launch a second crew of three to Tiangong in the Shenzhou-15 spacecraft when for the first time, two crews will be able to work in shifts, before the Shenzhou-14 crew returns to Earth in December. China is slated to complete the construction of the space lab by the end of this year. The station is designed for at least 10 years of application and development.