BEIJING (AP) — China on Monday launched its third and final module to complete its permanent space station, fulfilling a decade-long effort to maintain a constant manned presence in orbit. .
Mengtian launched into space at 3:39 pm (0739 GMT) on Monday from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in the southern island of Hainan.
Many amateur photographers, space enthusiasts and various onlookers watched the launch from the adjacent beach.
Many waved the Chinese flag and wore T-shirts emblazoned with Chinese characters, reflecting the deep national pride invested in the space program and the technological advances it represents.
Mengtian, or “Celestial Dream,” joins Wentian as the station’s second experimental module, collectively known as Tiangong, or “Celestial Palace.” Both are connected to the Tianhe Core Module where the crew live and work.
Like its predecessor, Mengtian was launched aboard a Long March 5B Y4 carrier rocket (a member of China’s most powerful rocket family) from the Wenchang Cosmodrome off the coast of the tropical island of Hainan.
After a 13-hour flight, Mengtian was scheduled to reach Tiangong, home to two male and one female astronauts, according to the Chinese Manned Space Agency.
Chen Dong, Cai Xuzhe, and Liu Yang will arrive in early June and stay on board for six months, during which time they will complete station assembly, perform spacewalks, and conduct additional experiments.
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