China is already preparing the rocket for its next manned mission to space, which will be the longest in the entire history of its space program. This Thursday morning (7) a long march 2F, 62 meters high, was transported vertically to a launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

The rocket will take the Shenzhou 13 spacecraft and three astronauts into space, heading for the Chinese space station Tiangong, which is still under construction. The identity of the crew was not revealed, but according to the Space it is believed that they will be Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping and Ye Guangfu.

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Long March 2F rocket that will take Shenzhou 13 into space. Image: CMSA (China Manned Space Agency)

The three formed the Shenzhou 12 reserve team, which returned to earth recently. If confirmed, this will be Ye's first flight and the first time a woman, Wang, has visited Tiangong. Zhai is known for being the first "taikonaut" (as China calls its astronauts) to perform a space walkIn 2008.

The launch date of Shenzhou 13 has not been given by the Chinese government, but the duration of the mission is expected to be six months, double the current record holder, Shenzhou 12, which lasted three months.

During this period, the astronauts will continue the work of assembling and certifying the Tianhe, central module Tiangong station and the only component that is already in space. On September 20 an unmanned spacecraft, the Tianzhou 3, docked with the station carrying 6 tons of supplies, equipment and experiments.

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According to the Chinese space agency, completing the construction of Tiangong by 2022 will require a total of 11 missions, including four manned missions, four cargo missions and the launch of three modules. When Tiangong station is completed, it will have useful life 10 years, which can be extended to up to 15 years with future upgrades.

In addition to Tianhe, the station will receive two other modules, which when connected will give it the shape of a T: they are Wentian (search for the skies) and Mengtian (dreaming about the skies). Wentian and Tianhe will have robotic arms for handling external components, and Mengtian will have a decompression chamber for access to the outside of the station.

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