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Monday, October 17, 2016, 16:22

Xi congratulates crew on Shenzhou-11 launch

By Xinhua & Agencies

Xi congratulates crew on Shenzhou-11 launch
The 11th Long March II F carrier rocket lifts off with the Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft at 7:30 am Oct 17, 2016 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. (Photo / Xinhua)

JIUQUAN - Chinese President Xi Jinping sent a message of congratulations on the successful launch of the Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft on Monday.

Xi expressed congratulations and greetings to all researchers and staff engaged in the mission as well as the astronauts.

The mission of the orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 and the Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft marks the first time that Chinese astronauts will stay in orbit for medium term, Xi said in the message.

This marks the first time that Chinese astronauts will stay in orbit for medium term, Xi said in his message

Tasks of space science and application representing the frontier science and the future of high technology will be conducted during the mission, which Xi said symbolizes that China's manned space program has registered new and significant progresses.

Xi urged staff of the mission to carry on their work to guarantee that designated targets will be realized. He also encouraged them to "constantly break new ground for the manned space program, so that Chinese people will take bigger steps and march further in space probe, to make new contribution to the building of China into a space power."

Xi sent the message from the western Indian state of Goa where he attended the eighth summit of the emerging-market bloc of BRICS, which groups Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

Space program commander-in-chief Gen. Zhang Youxia declared the launch a success at 7:46 am. Defense Minister Fan Changlong then read the congratulatory message from President Xi.

Xi congratulates crew on Shenzhou-11 launch
The Long March-2F carrier rocket carrying China's Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft blasts off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, northwest China's Gansu p rovince, Oct 17, 2016. ( Li Gang/Xinhua )

Premier Li Keqiang and Liu Yunshan, member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, visited the Beijing control center to congratulate staff. It is the sixth time China has launched astronauts into space and the duration will be the longest by far.

Following the attachment of two experiment modules, the completed station is set to begin full operations in 2022 and will run for at least a decade.

An earlier Tiangong 1 experimental space station launched in 2011 went out of service in March after docking with three visiting spacecraft and extending its mission for two years. The Tiangong, or "Heavenly Palace," stations are considered stepping stones to a mission to Mars by the end of the decade.

The Shenzhou 11 astronauts are Jing Haipeng , who is flying his third mission, and 37-year-old Chen Dong .

"It is any astronaut's dream and pursuit to be able to perform many space missions," Jing, who turns 50 during his time in space, told a briefing Sunday.

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