China on 17 October 2016 successfully launched a manned spacecraft Shenzhou-11 carrying two astronauts. This was China’s longest-ever manned space mission.
The ‘Shenzhou-11’ spacecraft was put into orbit by a Long March-2F carrier rocket after the launch. It was launched into space from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre near the Gobi Desert in northwest China.
Wu Ping, Deputy Director of China’s manned space engineering office said that the spacecraft will dock with orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 in two days and the astronauts, namely Jing Haipeng (50) and Chen Dong (38), will stay in the lab for 30 days.
Jing Haipeng had participated in the Shenzhou-7 and Shenzhou-9 missions, while this is the first space mission for Chen Dong. Tiangong-2, launched into space on 15 September 2016, orbits about 393 kilometers above Earth.
The space lab was launched in September 2016 as part of China’s efforts to set up its own manned space station by 2022, which will make it the only the country to have such a facility in service as the present in-service International Space Station retires by 2024.
Till date, China had sent six manned spacecraft in the space.