The three astronauts who are part of the Shenzhou-13 mission are already on the Chinese space station Tiangong, whose name in Mandarin means “Heavenly Palace”. They will work at the station for nearly six months, the longest period for any Chinese astronaut to date.
The crew includes Zhai Zhigang, Ye Guanfu and Wang Yaping, the second Chinese female astronaut and the first to join Tiangong.
The “taikonauts”, as the members of the Chinese space program are known, plan to carry out construction missions, installation of mechanical arms, tests and tests with the station’s technology, scientific experiments and spacewalks.
The previous mission, dubbed Shenzhou-12, took three other “taikonauts” who returned to Earth in September.
China has a total of 11 missions planned for Tiangong by the end of next year, including at least two manned launches, two lab modules and two cargo missions.
China decided to build Tiangong after being prevented by the United States from participating in the International Space Station.