The successful launch of the Shenzhou XIII manned spacecraft from Jiuquan, Gansu province, in the early hours of Saturday marked a big stride toward the conclusion of trials for key technologies for China’s first space station Tiangong.
With three astronauts on board, Shenzhou XIII will dock with Tianhe core module about eight hours later. Two cargo spacecraft, Tianzhou 2 and Tianzhou 3, already joined the space station earlier this year where the three astronauts will spend the next six months.
During that period, they will conduct two to three extravehicular operations, install important devices to the mechanical arms of the space station and carry out several scientific and technological experiments and applications.
Shenzhou XIII is China’s sixth manned mission in Tianhe’s technology trials, but its importance should not be underestimated, as it will evaluate the functions and performances of all the systems and work units of the space station, and help complete its construction.
According to the China Manned Space Agency, if all goes well, the country will launch six other missions－Tianzhou 4 cargo spacecraft and Shenzhou XIV manned spacecraft, Wentian and Mengtian experimental spacecraft, Tianzhou 5 cargo spacecraft, and Shenzhou XV manned spacecraft－during the construction stage of the space station which is scheduled for completion before the end of 2022.
That China has fulfilled one goal after another of its manned spaceflight program since it announced it in 1992 shows its ability to transform blueprints into reality thanks to the advancements it has made in the field of space science and technology, its dedicated and hardworking teams of scientists, technology experts, technical workers, support staff, and the determination and able helmsmanship of the country’s leaders. Not to forget its extensive international cooperation with other countries including Russia, Germany and France, and international agencies such as the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the European Space Agency.
China sees its space station as a platform for deeper international cooperation, regards outer space as an area for global collaboration for the common good of humankind, and therefore welcomes foreign astronauts to its space station once it starts full operations.
In fact, cooperation between China and some other countries for selection and training of astronauts has already started. The China Manned Space Agency, in collaboration with the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, has been working to invite some UN member states to conduct scientific experiments on board Tianhe.
It is hoped more scientists and astronauts from around the world will participate in the initiative, and more young minds will be inspired by China’s space mission to explore the unknown and help build a community with a shared future for humankind. Editorial, China Daily