Shenzhou 11 is China’s sixth manned space mission and first manned space mission to the second Chinese space station Tiangong 2. It was launched on 17 October, 2016.
They will dock with the experimental Tiangong 2 space lab and spend 30 days there, the longest stay in space by Chinese astronauts. They will be conducting experiments and testing technologies for future flights. One of the experiments involves deploying a microsatellite known as Banxing 2 to inspect the space lab from outside.
The two crew members of Shenzhou 11 are:
1. Jing Haipeng (Commander)
Jing Haipeng has flown on two earlier space missions. The first flight was on Shenzhou-7 in 2008 and the second flight was on Shenzhou-9 in 2012.
2. Chen Dong
This is the first flight for Chen Dong.
Shenzhou 11 spacecraft was launched atop a Long March 2F rocket at China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert at 7:30 a.m. Beijing time Monday.
Over 100 different types of space food will be consumed while a range of technologies from exercise bicycles to broadband links will be used throughout the mission.
Tianzhou 1 cargo vehicle will also dock with the Tiangong 2 station to deliver supplies.
As of 2016, this is the longest Chinese mission in space.
Did You Know?
* Tiangong 1 was China’s first orbiting lab. It went out of service in March 2016 after five years of operation and is expected to fall out of orbit late 2017.
* China launched its first astronauts into orbit in 2003 and has plans to send crews to the moon during the 2030s. It also aims to send a rover to Mars in 2020.
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