China space program is getting more and more sophisticated since the day it launched the first man into space almost 13 years ago.
The Chinese astronaut duo, Haipeng and Chen Dong entered the nation’s orbiting station Tiangong 2 on Wednesday, October 19, 2016. The pair will stay for a month, making it the sixth and perhaps the longest stay in the space. The duo had blasted off in their space module, spacecraft Shenzhou 11 which successfully docked with the Chinese space station a manoeuvre which was perfected during the missions to an earlier experimental station.
Commander Jing Haipeng opened the hatch and entered the experimental space station after changing from his space suit into blue overalls at 6 am followed by astronaut Cheng Dong who will be on his first space mission. The duo checked the status of the space station and sent greetings to the Chinese people. The space station was launched on September 15 and has been since orbiting the planet at the height of 393 kilometres.
The 30 days stay of the astronauts will see them conduct some experiments related to medicine and space-related technologies. They will also test systems and validate different procedures in preparation for the launching of the station’s core module in2018.
It will be six years before the space station will be fully operational and is expected to run for a decade. The manned space program also conducted a spacewalk while the lunar program has recently decommissioned its Yutu rover and is now considering sending a crew to the moon. The Tiangong which means “Heavenly Peace” will become the stepping stone for sending a rover to Mars. Communication with the now defunct space station, Tiangong 1 station has been snapped, and it will burn up on re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere next year.
China was not a part of the ISS because US laws prevented it from participating citing security risks. Chinese space program is fully under military control.