New Delhi: China on Monday successfully launched its 6th manned spaceflight mission - the Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft carrying two astronauts – as the country moved a step closer to establish its permanent space station by 2022.
Chinese astronauts Jing Haipeng, 50, and Chen Dong, 37, were blasted off into space by Shenzhou-11 (heavenly vessel) spacecraft at 7:30 am local time (5 am IST) from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre near the Gobi Desert in northwest China.
The Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, which is China's longest-ever manned space mission, was put into orbit by a Long March-2F carrier rocket after the launch, telecast live by the state-run China Central Television (CCTV).
Watch liftoff of the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft from northwest China below!
Video credit: CCTV News/YouTube
The Shenzhou-11 crew capsule will bring two Chinese astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong to the Tiangong-2 space laboratory which launched last month, September 15th.
The spacecraft will dock with orbiting space lab Tiangong-2, which launched last month, September 15th, on Wednesday. The astronauts will stay in the lab for 30 days.
The mission was declared a success by Zhang Youxia, commander-in-chief of China's manned space programme, about 19 minutes after the blast-off, state-run Xinhua reported.
China is putting billions of dollars into its space programme in a bid to catch up with the US and Europe. It also plans to launch its maiden Mars mission in 2020 to match India and others.
(With PTI inputs)