China’s Shenzhou-13 spacecraft docks for 6-month mission

Three astronauts have entered China’s space station for a six-month mission, setting to work after successfully docking aboard their Shenzhou-13 spacecraft

by Associated Press

October 16, 2021, 8:10 AM

• 4 min read

BEIJING — Three astronauts entered China’s space station for a six-month mission, setting to work Saturday after successfully docking aboard their Shenzhou-13 spacecraft. Two men, and a woman astronauts floated around the module before speaking via a live-streamed video. They pledged to do their best in carrying out their missions. The spacecraft was launched by a Long March-2F rocket at 12:23 a.m. Saturday and docked with the Tianhe core module of the Tiangong space station at 6:56 a.m., approximately six and a half hours later.

The three astronauts entered the Tianhe space station core module at about 10 a.m., the China Manned Space Agency said. They are the second crew to move into the space station launched last April. The first crew stayed for three months. The new team includes two veterans of space travel. Zhai Zhigang, 55, and Wanping, 41, and Ye Guangfu, 41, make their first trip to space. “We’ll cooperate carefully conduct maneuvers, and try to accomplish all tasks in this round of exploration of the universe,” said Wang in the video.


Wang is the first Chinese woman to board the Tiangong space station and is expected to become China’s first female spacewalker. The crew will do three spacewalks to install equipment in preparation for expanding the station, assess living conditions in the Tianhe module, and conduct experiments in space medicine and other fields. They were seen off by a military band and supporters singing “Ode to the Motherland,” underscoring the national pride invested in the space program, which has advanced rapidly in recent years.

China’s military-run space program plans to send multiple crews to the station over the next two years to make it fully functional. When completed with the addition of two more sections — nengtian and Wentian — ,the station will weigh about 66 tons, much smaller than the International Space Station, which launched its first module in 1998 and weighs around 450 tons. Two more Chinese modules are due to be launched before the end of next year during the stay of the yet-to-be-named Shenzhou-14 crew.

On Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry renewed its commitment to cooperation with other nations in the peaceful use of space. Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said sending humans into space was a “common cause of mankind.” China would “continue to extend the depth and breadth of international cooperation and exchanges” in crewed spaceflight and “make positive contributions to the exploration of the mysteries of the universe,” he said. China was excluded from the International Space Station primarily due to U.S. objections over the Chinese program’s secretive nature and close military ties, prompting it to launch two experimental modules before starting on the permanent station.

U.S. law requires congressional approval for the American and Chinese space programs, but China cooperates with space experts from other countries, including France, Sweden, Russia, and Italy. Chinese officials have said they look forward to hosting astronauts from different countries aboard the space station once it becomes fully functional. China has launched seven crewed missions with a4 astronauts aboard — two had flown twice — since 2003 ,when it became only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to put a person in space on its own.

China has also expanded its work on lunar and Mars exploration, including landing a rover on the little-explored far side of the Moon and returning lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s. This year, China also landed its Tianwen-1 space probe on Mars, whose accompanying Zhurong rover has been explored for evidence of life on the red planet. Other Chinese space programs call for collecting soil from an asteroid and bringing back additional lunar samples. A highly secretive space plane is also reportedly under development. China has also aspired to land people on the Moon and possibly build a scientific base there, although no timeline has been proposed for such projects.

Tyson Houlding
I’m a lifestyle blogger with a passion for writing, photography, and exploring new places. I started this blog when I was 18 years old to share what I was learning about the world with family and friends. I’ve since grown into a freelance writer, blogger, and photographer with a growing audience. I hope you find inspiration and motivation while reading through my work!