China will commence the Shenzhou-12 spaceflight mission today, launching three astronauts aboard a Long March rocket. Shenzhou-12 is the third
China will commence the Shenzhou-12 spaceflight mission today, launching three astronauts aboard a Long March rocket.
Shenzhou-12 is the third operation in the construction of the Tiangong “Heavenly Palace” space station, expected to be completed by 2023. The station’s construction began in late April with the launch of the Tianhe core module and will now continue with the three Shenzhou-12 astronauts conducting two spacewalks to install equipment to Tianhe. Once completed, the station will assist China in its space research in space life sciences, microgravity fuel physics, material science in space and fundamental physics in microgravity.
Expect Shenzhou-12 to be successfully executed. The launch comes ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on July 1 and will be strictly monitored to ensure no errors which could damage the CCP’s reputation occur. Likewise, though China’s Beidou satellite systems are used by the People’s Liberation Army in targeting, mapping and surveillance, the Tiangong station is unlikely to be used by the military. Instead, Tiangong will be used to exalt Beijing’s international status and position it as a major spacefaring nation for future international space law discussions, allowing it to advocate for the banning of space weapons thereby levelling its technological disadvantage with Washington.
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