China prepares to launch its next space station

China is preparing for its next missions to finish the construction of its first space station

Two significant events took place on Sunday at two launch sites in China, as the country prepares for missions to complete its space station by the end of the year.

A Long March-2F carrier rocket carrying the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft was hauled to the launch tower at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China’s Gobi Desert, in preparation for its mission in June.

Before then, the flight combination will be tested, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

A three-person crew will board the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft and spend six months building China’s space station and conducting experiments.

The relay baton for completing the building of the gigantic space station will be passed to the Shenzhou-15 crewed mission at the end of the year, according to mission authorities.

On the southern island of Hainan, a Long March-5B carrier rocket arrived at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on Sunday. The rocket will send China’s first space laboratory into orbit in July.

At Wenchang, the carrier rocket will join the Wentian, or Quest for the Heavens, space lab. The Wentian lab module and the Long March-5B will be assembled and tested in the following weeks, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

The second space lab, dubbed Mengtian, or Dreaming of the Heavens, will connect with the space station in October, using the same type of rocket.

By that time, the space station will have taken on a T-shape and will be ready for the next missions.

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