He waved one last goodbye to the crowd as the astronauts were sung by other military personnel and a group of children. The astronauts boarded the elevator to be taken to the spacecraft at the Jiuquan launch center in China.
The Sencou-12 space shuttle was launched from the center in the Gobi Desert by the Long March – 2F Y12 rocket, shortly after 09:22 local time (04.22 GMT).
The astronauts are scheduled to stay at Tienhi (Heavenly Harmony) for 3 months to conduct various studies and experiments for the two laboratory modules scheduled to be dispatched next year, to test the equipment, and to prepare for the station’s expansion.
It was reported that astronauts Nie Haishing, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo would take part in the first manned expedition to the space station.
China’s plan to build a space station
China launched the core module of the station, called Tienhi (Heavenly Harmony), on April 29. Then, on 29 May, a resupply voyage was organized with the cargo shuttle Tiencou-2 (Skyship-2) to the station.
The core module and laboratory modules named “Vintien” (Seeking the Sky) and “Mingtien” (Dreaming the Sky) will also be sent into space in 2022.
After the main skeleton is formed, the space telescope called “Shuntien” (Wandering the Sky) will be added to the station as a separate module in the following years.
In order for the station to be completed in 2022, 4 manned flights and 4 cargo flights are planned.