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China gears up for next missions to complete its first space station

Sunday witnessed two important events at two launch sites in China as the country gears up for the missions to complete its space station by the end of the year.

At the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gobi Desert, a Long March-2F carrier rocket with the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft was moved to the launch tower, ready for its mission scheduled in June.

The China Manned Space Agency said the flight combination will undergo tests before then.

A three-member crew will board the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft and stay in China's space station for six months to build the station and conduct a series of experiments.

According to mission officials, they will pass the relay baton to complete the assembly of the colossal space station to the Shenzhou-15 crewed mission around the end of the year.

Also on Sunday, a Long March-5B carrier rocket arrived at the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the southern island of Hainan.

In July, the rocket will launch the first space laboratory of China's space station. The carrier rocket will join the space lab named Wentian, or Quest for the Heavens, at Wenchang.

The China Manned Space Agency said the Wentian lab module and Long March-5B will go through assembly and tests in the coming weeks.

The same type of rocket will also be tasked with delivering the second space lab named Mengtian, or Dreaming of the Heavens, to dock with the space station in October.

By then, the space station will form a T-shaped structure and be ready for the following missions.


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