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China's Shenzhou 13 sends second crewed mission to Tiangong

China's Shenzhou 13 sends second crewed mission to Tiangong
The CZ-2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou 13 spaceship with astronauts Ye Guangfu, Zhai Zhigang and Wang Yaping on board, blasts off at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, on Friday. Photo by Yang Ge/EPA-EFE

Oct. 15 (UPI) -- China on Friday launched three astronauts into space aboard Shenzhou 13, its second crewed mission to the Tiangong space station.

The Long March 2F rocket lifted off at 12:23 a.m. from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

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Aboard the spacecraft were Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu. Wang will be the first woman to step foot on the Tianhe core module, Zhai is serving as mission commander and the mission is Ye's first spaceflight.

The spacecraft was expected to dock with the Tianhe core module on the space station about 6.5 hours after launch, the South China Morning Post reported.

The first crew aboard the Tiangong space station returned to Earth in September after spending three months living in orbit. It was the country's longest human space mission in history.

The Shenzhou 13 crew are expected to live in orbit for six months, working to assemble the space station.

Space.com reported the trio also will carry out various experiments involving space medicine and microgravity physics.

It will take 11 missions to completely build the Tiangong space station, which is expected to be about 20% of the size of the International Space Station. Five of the launches, including Shenzhou 13, have already taken place.

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Out-of-this-world images from space

This image, showing an X1.0 class solar flare flash in the center of the sun, was captured on October 28, 2021, by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. It shows a blend of light from the 171 and 304 angstrom wavelengths. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground however, when intense enough, they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. Photo courtesy of NASA | License Photo

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