Chinese President Xi Jinping has spoken with three astronauts making the country’s space station their home for the next three months, and called their mission an essential milestone in China’s space industry.
BEIJING — Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke Wednesday with three astronauts making the country’s first permanent space station their home for the next three months. They called their mission an essential milestone in China’s space industry.
Former air force pilots Nie Haisheng, Liu Boxing, and Tang Hongbo arrived at the space station last week. They will carry out scientific experiments and spacewalks and prepare the station for receiving two additional modules next year.
“We are all delighted to see you are in good shape and the work is going well,” Xi said, speaking from the Beijing Aerospace Control Center. “The building of the space station is an important milestone in China’s space industry, and it will make a pioneering contribution to the peaceful use of the space by mankind.”
“We in Beijing await your triumphant return,” he added. The three gave a military salute before waving goodbye. Nie, Liu, and Tang are carrying out China’s most extended crewed space mission by far. Three more crewed missions to the station are planned.
The space agency plans 11 launches through the end of next year to add two laboratory modules to expand the 70-ton station, along with supplies and crew members. The current mission is the third of the 11 launches. This story has been corrected to say that Tianhe is the name of the space station’s core module, not the overall station.