Watch: Chinese astronauts enter their own space station in orbit for first time

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BEIJING – The three Chinese astronauts carried into space on board the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft have successfully entered Tianhe, the core module of China’s space station, announced the China Manned Space Engineering Office.

The trio, who will stay in space for about three months, entered Tianhe around 6.5 hours after the spaceship successfully docked with the core module.

“China’s Shenzhou-12 manned spaceship successfully completed orbital status setting after entering the orbit and conducted a fast autonomous rendezvous and docking with the front docking port of the core module Tianhe at 15:54 (Beijing Time) on June 17,” said the office in a statement, adding that the whole process took approximately 6.5 hours.

“This is Tianhe’s first rendezvous and docking with a Shenzhou spaceship since it was sent into orbit,” it added.

Earlier today, the Long March-2F Y12 carrier rocket, carrying the Tianzhou-12 crewed spaceship, blasted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

About 573 seconds later, Shenzhou-12 successfully separated from the rocket and entered the preset orbit, sending astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo into space.

It is China’s nineteenth flight mission since the launch of the manned space program, and also the first crewed mission in the construction stage of the space station.

After entering orbit, the spaceship will conduct a fast autonomous rendezvous and docking with the space station core module Tianhe according to built-in computer programs.

During the flight of the space complex, astronauts will be stationed in the Tianhe module and stay in orbit for three months, carry out tasks such as the mechanical arm operation and extravehicular activities, and verify a series of key technologies such as long-term residence in space, recycling of resources and life support of astronauts.

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