China successfully launches Shenzhou-12 manned crew into orbit

China on Thursday launched three astronauts into space on the Shenzhou-12 craft that will later in the day dock with Beijing’s new space station.

The Long March-2F rocket successfully lifted off on schedule at 9:22 a.m. local time from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, state-run CGTN reported.

“Into the Space!” cheered Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, via Twitter shortly after the launch. “[Shenzhou-12] has been successfully launched. History will remember this day,”

The three Chinese astronauts onboard — flight commander Nie Haisheng, 57, and his crew, Liu Boming, 55, and Tang Hongbo, 46 — are to later in the day rendezvous and then dock with the Tianhe core module of the space station to become another part of the orbital that is currently being constructed.

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