China’s Space Station Opens an Era of Long-term Human Presence

On June 17, the Shenzhou XII manned spacecraft successfully docked with China’s space station core module Tianhe, carrying three astronauts for a three-month stay. During the flight, the astronauts performed two spacewalks, tested Shenzhou XII’s mechanical arm and conducted a number of extravehicular activities. The 3-month residency tested key aspects of the mission including long-term residence in space, recycling of resources and life support mechanisms.

On Oct 16, Shenzhou XIII carried another three astronauts to the Tiangong Space Station. The astronauts will stay for six months, carrying out a series of scientific experiments and further testing the effects of long-term stays in space, marking the beginning of a long-term manned space station mission.

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