State media say a Chinese spaceship carrying a three-person crew has docked with the country’s new space station at the start of three-month mission.
The Shenzhou-12 craft connected with the Tianhe space station module about six hours after take off Thursday. The crew will carry out experiments, test equipment, conduct maintenance and prepare the station for receiving two laboratory modules next year.
The mission brings to 14 the number of astronauts China has launched into space since 2003.
Under bright-blue morning skies, China launched its first crewed space mission in five years Thursday morning, sending three science-minded military pilots rocketing to a new orbiting station.
The astronauts were seen off by space officials, other uniformed military personnel and a crowd of children waving flowers and flags and singing patriotic songs.
The two veteran astronauts and a newcomer making his first space flight are scheduled to stay three months in the Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony, conducting experiments, testing equipment and preparing the station for expansion before two laboratory modules are launched next year.