China sends two spacefliers to orbital lab

Long March launch
A Chinese Long March 2F rocket rises from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, sending the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft with two Chinese spacefliers into orbit. (Credit: CCTV)

Two Chinese astronauts are on their way to an orbiting laboratory for a monthlong mission aimed at preparing the way for a full-fledged Chinese space station.

Veteran military pilots Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong lifted off in the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft atop a Long March 2F rocket at China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert at 7:30 a.m. Beijing time Oct. 17 (4:30 p.m. PT Oct. 16). Jing, a veteran of two earlier space missions, is the commander for what’s expected to be the longest-lasting of China’s six crewed spaceflights to date.

“It is any astronaut’s dream and pursuit to be able to perform many space missions,” The Associated Press quoted Jing as saying during a pre-launch briefing.

Ge the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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