Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS)

China launches 3-member crew to its space station

JIUQUAN SATELLITE LAUNCH CENTER, CHINA — China launched a three-member crew to its orbiting space station on Thursday as part of its ambitious program that aims to put astronauts on the moon by 2030. The Shenzhou-18 spacecraft lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert in northwestern China atop a Long March 2-F rocket at 8:59 p.m. (1259 GMT).

The spacecraft’s three-member crew will relieve the Shenzhou-17 team, which has been staffing China’s Tiangong space station since last October. The China Manned Space Agency, or CMSA, held a send-off ceremony — complete with flag-waving children and patriotic music — for the Shenzhou-18 crew earlier on Thursday, as the three astronauts prepared to enter the spacecraft.

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