China is a late entrant in Space research and wants to leave a mark in the field alongside stalwarts like America and Russia. It continues to take giant strides to keep up with the pace of its competitors. The latest is the successful journey of three of its astronauts to the Tiangong space station. A Long March-2F rocket launched them from the launch pad in the Gobi desert. It took them six hours to reach and dock with Tiangong. The moment was a great one for the country and its people as the event was telecast throughout China.

Images showed the three astronauts floating in zero gravity.

Daily Mail UK reports the three of them would remain in the main module for three months. The module is Tianhe that translates into Heavenly Harmony. These astronauts add up to 14 from China who have been in space since 2003. It can take credit for being the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to do so on its own. In June 2020, a news report said China was gearing up to build its space station by 2022.

Space is a domain China wants to dominate

Three Chinese astronauts to the Tiangong space station is the first crewed mission in five years. The commander of the mission is Nie Haisheng. He is a veteran who was among the first batch of astronauts selected in 1998. He has been a part of two missions.

Daily Mail UK mentions the successful unfolding of its solar panels. The success of such missions in distant locations depends on a combination of Artificial Intelligence, robotics, and renewable energy. During their stay, the astronauts will carry out spacewalks. Those would be of duration of around six or seven hours. In December 2020, China sent a probe to the moon to collect and bring back lunar rocks.

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Beijing is pursuing an ambitious program to establish itself as a space power. There are plans to modify the living quarters to enable the astronauts to be in the station for up to six months. That would match with the period of stay for astronauts associated with the International Space Station ISS.

China does not rule out international collaboration on its space station

The reason for China to have a human outpost in space was the ban imposed by the United States on its astronauts to be on the ISS. However, an official of the Chinese space agency says: “We are willing to carry out international cooperation with any country that is committed to the peaceful use of outer space.” The team of astronauts underwent rigorous training before their mission. Daily Mail UK adds that the Tiangong space station would be the third modular space station launched to date. The previous ones are the Soviet-era Mir and the International Space Station. The ISS could be retired after 2024. Compared to the ISS, the Tiangong would be much smaller, with a lifespan of around 10 to 15 years.

Last month, China’s Zhurong rover landed on Mars to join the American rovers' Curiosity and Perseverance. All of them are exploring different aspects of the Red Planet.

Tiangong would be a new home in space for China

According to the BBC, China has made rapid progress in space research within the past six months. It brought rock samples from the Moon and landed a rover on the Red Planet Mars. Both were highly complex and challenging missions. In 2019, China sent an un-crewed rover to the far side of the Moon. It was a first. The three astronauts who have landed on the Tiangong space station will orbit 236 miles above the Earth. This would be a new home in space for China. The outpost, once completed, would have living quarters, science labs, and a Hubble-class telescope.

It would take a couple of years to get these added. 56-year-old fighter pilot Nie Haisheng is the Commander of the ship. He is China's oldest astronaut in space and has adequate experience in the field.