China To Launch Crewed Mission Tomorrow To Build Space Station

Shenzhou-14 will be China's third of four crewed missions and the seventh of a total of 11 missions, needed to complete the space station by the end of the year.

Key Details

  • A Long March-2F rocket carrying the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft is set to blast off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the northwestern province of Gansu at 10:44 a.m. local time (0244 GMT) on Sunday.
  • Mission commander Chen Dong will be accompanied by Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe aboard Shenzhou, meaning "Divine Vessel" in Chinese.
  • China began constructing its three-module space station in April 2021 with the launch of Tianhe - the first and biggest of the station's three modules.
  • Tianhe, slightly larger than a metro bus, will form the living quarters of visiting astronauts once the T-shaped space station is completed.
  • Following Shenzhou-14, the remaining two modules - the laboratory cabins Wentian and Mengtian - will be launched in July and October, respectively.
  • Wentian will feature a robotic arm, an airlock cabin for trips outside of the station, and living quarters for an additional three astronauts during crew rotations.
  • The Shenzhou-14 crew will help with the setup of Wentian and Mengtian and conduct functionality tests on both modules.
  • The space station will have a designed lifespan of a decade. At 180 tonnes, it will be slightly heavier than Russia's decommissioned Mir, and about 20% of the International Space Station by mass.