For U.S. readers, Happy Father's Day!
Saturday China successfully launched 3 Taikonauts - including China's first woman Taikonaut - into orbit. The mission is designed to rendezvous with China's space station and dock the orbiting spacecraft with the station. The mission is supposed to be 13 days in length.
According to a story in CNET, "The mission commander is 46-year-old Jing Haipeng, veteran of China's third and most recent manned mission, in 2008, and the first Chinese astronaut to make a return trip to space. His crew mates are both making their first flight: Liu Wang, 43, and Liu Yang, 33, the first female Chinese astronaut. She is an air force major in the People's Liberation Army with 1,680 hours of flying time." See her photo below.
China is the third nation after the former USSR (now Russia) and the U.S. to orbit humans in space. It is also the third nation to have a manned space station in orbit. It is no secret China has a manned mission to the Moon in its future goals. It is progressing just as the U.S. did, with the exception of having a manned space station in orbit, to achieve the necessary experience and technical capabilities to go to the Moon.
What is unlike the USSR, China has made its space program somewhat transparent - broadcasting live coverage of the launch to its citizens. Chinese citizens watched live TV transmissions of the three Taikonauts as they headed to orbit.
The next crucial phase is in a few days when the crew attempts to rendezvous and dock with the Chinese space station.
Sky Guy in VA