China Current Affairs

China successfully launches its longest ever manned mission to space

China has successfully launched longest-ever manned mission by taking two astronauts Jing Haipeng (50) and Chen Dong (37) into the orbit.

They were launched on board of Shenzhou-11 (heavenly vessel) spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre near the Gobi Desert in northwest China. The spacecraft was put into orbit by a Long March-2F carrier rocket.

Key Facts

  • Both astronauts will spend a month aboard an experimental space laboratory Tiangong-2 (Heavenly Palace 2).
  • During the mission, they will conduct aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance with human participation.
  • They will also undertake ultrasound tests during space travel for the first time, cultivate plants in space etc.
  • The Shenzhou-11 mission is China’s sixth manned spacecraft. It will be first time that Chinese astronauts will stay in orbit for medium term.
  • Earlier in 2013, three Chinese astronauts in a manned space mission had spent 15 days in orbit and were docked with a space laboratory Tiangong 1.


Tiangong-2 was launched in September 2016 as part of China’s efforts to set up its own permanent manned space station by 2022.  It is China’s second experimental space station module and had upgraded habitat with improved life support systems, power, communications and research equipments. By launching longest-ever manned space mission, China has moved a step closer to establish its permanent space station. After completion, it will make China, only the country to have space station facility is space as the current in-service International Space Station (ISS) retires by 2024.


World’s largest radio telescope built in China

China has built world’s largest radio telescope nicknamed Tianyan (Heavenly Eye” or “The Eye of Heaven) or the five-hundred-metre aperture spherical radio telescope (FAST).

It has started its operation and is part of China’s drive to become a science powerhouse. It is located in the Dawodang depression (vast natural crater), a natural basin in Pingtang County in the Guizhou Province, Southwest China.

Key Facts

  • With its opening, the intensive testing phase of the telescope will begin. It will take nearly three years to calibrate the instruments of telescope to become fully operational.
  • The facility is part of China’s drive to become a science powerhouse. It is an ambitious project of the National Astronomical Observatories of China.
  • It is the world’s largest filled aperture (single dish) radio telescope and the second largest radio telescope after the Russian RATAN-600, which has a sparsely filled aperture.
  • It is made up of 4,450 panels and has reflector as large as 30 football pitches. It has 500 meters diameter, giving it more sensitivity.
  • It will be used to search for signs of intelligent life and to observe distant pulsars – tiny, rapidly spinning neutron stars believed to be the products of supernova explosions.
  • It will be also used to study stellar radio emissions, gravitational waves and potentially signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.
  • China’s best supercomputers the SkyEye-1 will be used to process the massive amounts of data supplied by FAST.


China successfully launches Tiangong-2 space lab

China has successfully launched Tiangong-2 space lab to develop expertise for a future space station and conduct science experiments.

The space lab was launched on board of Long March-2F T2 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China’s Gobi desert.

Key Facts

  • Tiangong-2 ( in English means Heavenly Palace 2) space lab is part of China’s ambitious Project 921-2 space station program aimed at creating a third generation space station.
  • The 8-tonne module replaces China’s now-defunct Tiangong 1 space lab mission which had ended its operational life in March 2016.
  • Tiangong-2 features improved living quarters and life-support infrastructure for longer stays by visiting crewmembers.
  • It will be used for testing systems and processes for mid-term space stays and refueling. It will be placed at slightly higher orbit around 393 kilometres above the earth.

Note: The Tiangong-2 and its predecessor, Tiangong-1 (launched in September 2011), are prototypes for China’s ultimate goal to launch a permanent 20-ton space station after 2020 just as International Space Station (ISS). It will make China potentially the only country with a permanent space presence. In 2003, China had conducted its first crewed space mission becoming only the third country after Russia and the US to do so.