China launches crewed mission to its space station, plans moon landing before 2030

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The Shenzhou 16 spacecraft and its carrier rocket lift off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on May 30, 2023 in Jiuquan, China.

Kevin Frayer | Getty Images

China launched its Shenzhou-16 spacecraft crewed by three astronauts on Tuesday, the China Manned Space Agency said in a statement, declaring the launch a “complete success.”

The agency said the Long March 2F rocket carrying the spaceship took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert shortly after 9:30 a.m. local time.

The spacecraft is heading to China’s space station and will relieve the crew of Shenzhou-15, who have been living there since November.

The Shenzhou-16 crew will conduct scientific experiments and maintenance on space station equipment, said CMSA.

Tuesday’s launch marks China’s fifth crewed mission to its space station since it first sent astronauts in 2021.

In recent years, China has ramped up its efforts in space exploration and research. A CMSA official said China aims to launch a crewed mission to the moon by 2030, according to state media.

U.S. and China in new space race as journey to moon intensifies

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