It’s been a month since the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft carried the three Chinese astronauts, or taikonauts, to China’s space station. As one of the most important missions for the manned space program, the Shenzhou-12 is a display of China’s latest space technology.
The China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO) on Saturday published a timeline of Shenzhou-12’s progress so far. And here’s a translation of it.
All timestamps below are in Beijing Time.
6:32 a.m., June 17, 2021: Taikonauts set off
L-R: Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming before the launch of the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, June 17, 2021. /CFP
After fierce training sessions – including underwater work wearing 200-kilogram spacesuits – the three taikonauts, namely Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, have finally walked out of training center and boarded the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft.
“The most challenging task is not those training sessions. Instead, it’s maintaining the passion of an explorer at heart,” the CMSEO said.
Nearly three hours later: Rocket launched
A Long March-2F Y12 rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-12 spaceship with Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo on board, blasts off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in NW China, June 17, 2021. /CFP
A Long March-2F rocket carried the Shenzhou-12 to orbit from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. It took about 573 seconds for the rocket to put the spacecraft into space.
“It’s been five years since the last taikonaut broke out of the atmosphere,” the CMSEO said. “We are moving firmly to the goal we set.”
3:54 p.m.: Shenzhou-12 docked with the China Space Station core module
The core module of the space station – Tianhe – was already waiting on the orbit. Serving as a connector of other space station modules, it was launched back in April.
Already connected to the station is the Tianzhou-2, a cargo ship filled with supplies needed by the taikonauts to survive, work and have fun.
The docking between Shenzhou-12 and the China Space Station was done automatically by machines without human intervention.
6:48 p.m.: Taikonauts entered China’s space station
Described by the CMSEO as a “milestone of a new age” for China’s space exploration, the entrance means a lot for the Chinese people.
The three-person crew is expected to stay in the space station for three months, during which time they’ll help set up the station and carry out some scientific research.
9:30 a.m., June 23: A video call from the president
Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first video call to the space station and extended his greetings to the taikonauts.
June 30: ‘Happy birthday’ from space
The three taikonauts sent birthday wishes to the Communist Party of China (CPC) from space, ahead of the CPC’s centenary.
“Each success of the space program relates to the CPC’s decisions, care and leadership,” the CMSEO said.
8:11 a.m., July 4: Spacewalk with a robot arm
Two of the three taikonauts performed a seven-hour-long session outside the space station.
A robot arm helped Liu Boming to and from one place to another on the outside of the space station.
CMSEO said China’s space program will carry on with their endeavor in space.