As the world descends into deeper geopolitical chaos, Russia ally China continues to rev up the space race competition.
The Asian superpower recently announced that it would be launching three additional astronauts to the nation’s newest space station over the summer. The next mission is set to launch in June, following the return this past weekend of another crew’s six-month journey in orbit, per an official spokesperson on Sunday.
According to Hao Chun, who serves as Director of the China Manned Space Engineering Office, the Shenzhou 14 crew will spend approximately six months located on the Tiangong in order to add two additional modules to the station in June.
China, which recently surpassed the United States in terms of GDP, initially launched its first astronaut into space on 2003. Ten years later, the nation launched robot rovers on the moon in 2013.
Chinese officials have contemplated a potential manned mission to the moon as well.
Tiangong, also known as Heavenly Palace, had its first core module launched in April 2021, with varied plans calling for the completion of Tiangong’s construction this year.
In July, the Wentian module is set to be launched, with the Mention module being launched in October, according to Hao.
Over the weekend, the Shenzhou 13 crew landed in the Gobi desert, located in Inner Mongolia’s northern region, after six months in space.
Over the course of the six-month mission, female astronaut Wang Yaping became the first Chinese woman to perform a space walk.
In addition, Wang, alongside Commander Zhai Zhigang and crewmate Ye Guangfu, beamed a physics lesson for high school students back to earth.