China’s youngest-ever crew of astronauts blasted off into space on Saturday, heading for the country’s Tiangong space station. The three-person crew, consisting of Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, and Ye Guangfu, lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China at 10:03 a.m. local time (02:03 UTC).
The crew is scheduled to spend six months on the Tiangong space station, where they will conduct scientific experiments and maintain the station. The mission is part of China’s ambitious space program, which aims to land a human on the moon by 2030 and establish a permanent lunar base by 2035.
Zhai, Wang, and Ye are all experienced astronauts, but this is the first time for all of them to visit the Tiangong space station. The Tiangong space station is still under construction, but it is already the third space station to be in orbit around Earth, following the International Space Station and the defunct Mir space station.
The launch of China’s youngest-ever crew of astronauts is a significant milestone for China’s space program. It shows that China is becoming a major player in space exploration and that it is committed to developing its own space station.