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Chinese crewed spaceship docks with nation's new space station

Crew docks with space stn

State media say a Chinese spaceship carrying a three-person crew has docked with the country's new space station at the start of three-month mission.

The Shenzhou-12 craft connected with the Tianhe space station module about six hours after takeoff Thursday.

The crew will carry out experiments, test equipment, conduct maintenance and prepare the station for receiving two laboratory modules next year.

The mission brings to 14 the number of astronauts China has launched into space since 2003.

China launched its first crewed space mission in five years Thursday.

The astronauts were seen off by space officials, other uniformed military personnel and a crowd of children waving flowers and flags and singing patriotic songs at the Jiuquan launch center in northwestern China.

The mission is the third of 11 planned through next year to add the additional sections to the station and send up crews and supplies. A fresh three-member crew and a cargo ship with supplies will be sent in three months.

 

China is not a participant in the International Space Station, largely as a result of U.S. objections to the Chinese programs secrecy and close military ties. However, China has been stepping up cooperation with Russia and a host of other countries, and its station may continue operating beyond the International Space Station, which is reaching the end of its functional life.



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