ANKARA (AA) – Three Chinese astronauts on the Shenzhou-15 spacecraft arrived on Wednesday at the China space station for the first time in China’s space history, increasing the manpower at the in-orbit space lab to six.
"The three astronauts aboard China's #Shenzhou XV spaceship entered the China Space Station and met with another astronaut trio on Wednesday, a historic gathering that added the manpower at the in-orbit space lab to six for the first time," Chinese Space Station tweeted.
China late Tuesday successfully launched the manned spaceship Shenzhou-15 at 11:08 p.m. (1508GMT) with three astronauts onboard for its historic mission to meet with their colleagues on the space station.
"The spaceship conducted a fast automated rendezvous and docked with the front port of the space station's Tianhe module at 5:42 a.m. Wednesday (Beijing Time)," said the space agency.
Among the three astronauts, also known as taikonauts, are Fei Junlong, the mission commander, Deng Qingming, and Zhang Lu.
“They will stay in space for six months. The main objectives of the mission include verifying the space station's ability to support crew rotation and achieving the first in-orbit crew shift with the Shenzhou-14 members,” Global Times quoted Ji Qiming, spokesperson for the China Manned Space Agency, as saying on Monday.
In June, Beijing launched the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft on a Long March 2F rocket, carrying three crew members for a six-month stay on the country's new space station.
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid