1 of 2 | The Shenzhou-16 launched Tuesday morning from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch in China's north-central Gansu province. Center Photo by Zhang Xiaoning/China's National Space Administration
May 30 (UPI) -- China on Tuesday successfully launched a manned mission into space with a final destination of its newly completed orbital space station.
China's National Space Administration said in a statement that the Long March 2F rocket manned by three astronauts launched at 9:31 a.m. from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert of China's north-central Gansu province.
Chinese officials said that after a few hours into its space flight, the Shenzhou-16 spacecraft will dock with the three-module Tiangong Space Station. The crew will then enter the orbital's core module one at a time and greet the astronauts of Shenzhou-15.
The Shenzhou-16 mission crew of Jing Haipeng, Zhu Yangzhu and Gui Haichao are set to take control of the station from the Shenzhou-15 mission upon their arrival for the start of their five-month stay.
During their time on the space station, the Shenzhou-16 crew will conduct scientific experiments as well as perform docking and deploying activities for cargo ships and maintain and repair the space station, among other activities, including spacewalks.
The crew is scheduled to be relieved by the Shenzhou-17 crew in November.
The Tiangong Space Station began construction in April 2021 and was completed with the arrival of its Mengtian module at the end of October. The Shenzhou-15 mission, which launched in late November, marked the start of full operations aboard the orbital.
The launch comes amid rapid development of China's space capabilities, and as the Asian nation sets a deadline of 2030 to send a manned mission to the moon.