Think of the craziest thing you’ve done in your life and then realise that you will never be as mad as the three Chinese astronauts headed into orbit right now.
On Thursday the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China and aboard the craft are three astronauts who will spend the next three months onboard the Tiangong Space Station. Or rather they will be spending three months in the Tianhe module.
That’s because Tiangong is still under construction which means that three Chinese astronauts are going to spend three months hurtling around Earth in a module of a space station. To give you a better idea of just how mad this is, the International Space Station orbits the Earth at a speed of 7.66km per second and it is fully constructed. Orbiting Earth at that speed in a single module is going to be something else.
“We are honored to take the lead in a series of manned missions for the space station construction,” senior member of the astronaut crew, Nie Haisheng, said according to a Bloomberg report. “We will make the core module a ‘space home.'”
Joining 56-year old Haisheng is Liu Boming (54) and Tang Hongbo (45) who are the first crew on a mission from China since 2016.
According to CCTV, the trio will be testing a variety of modules aboard Tianhe including the life support system, the robotic arm as well as material and waste management.
They will also test spacesuits, conduct scientific experiments and public outreach activities while maintaining their own health and fitness.
If the astronauts do spend three months in the module they will set a new record for a Chinese manned space mission. The current record is 33 days set by the Shenzou-11 crew in 2016.
Construction on the Tiangong Space Station is expected to be complete in 2022.
Here’s hoping for a safe journey around the globe for those astronauts.
[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]