China Space Station: President Xi Jinping Calls Astronauts on Tiangong

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  • Bloomberg Quicktake: Now published this video item, entitled “China Space Station: President Xi Jinping Calls Astronauts on Tiangong” – below is their description.

    President Xi Jinping had a video call with 3 astronauts working on the development of China’s first space station Tiangong. A Chinese rocket carrying the astronauts took off last week to work on the development of China’s first space station, part of the country’s effort to catch up to the U.S. as a space power.

    “In Beijing, all of us look forward to your return with victory,” said Xi.

    Shenzhou-12 launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China, the China Manned Space Agency said. It traveled to the Tianhe, an orbiting module that’s the first part of the Tiangong space station. The space station is under construction and due to be completed next year.

    The trio are scheduled to spend three months in the module to help with the development of the project’s technology and systems, according to state media. It’s the first crewed China mission since 2016.

    “We are honored to take the lead in a series of manned missions for the space station construction,” astronaut Nie Haisheng, the senior member of the crew, told media on Wednesday ahead of the launch. “We will make the core module a ‘space home.’ ”

    China has made the construction of its own space station a major part of its space program, which also has included breakthroughs such as the landing of a rover on Mars. In 2019, a Chinese spacecraft became the first to land on the far side of the moon.

    Chinese astronauts have never visited the International Space Station, a partnership of the American, Canadian, European, Japanese and Russian space agencies. A U.S. policy first enacted in 2011 prohibits most contact between NASA and its Chinese counterparts.

    The launch of the Tianhe module in late April led to alarm worldwide because debris from the rocket made an uncontrolled re-entry to Earth. After worries about pieces falling on inhabited areas and possible causing damage, the remains of the rocket fell harmlessly into the Indian Ocean.

    Success in space provides an opportunity for state-controlled media to trumpet the success of President Xi Jinping’s government and appeal to Chinese patriotism. “Heroes on their way, soar into the clouds,” broadcaster CCTV said after the launch.

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    Xi Jinping has been the President of China since 2013 and General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) since 2012.

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