On Wednesday, June 23, CCTV, China’s national broadcaster released a clip from the vlog made by Chinese astronauts Tang Hongbo, 45, Nie Haisheng, 56 and Liu Boming 54. The released video captures the first 24 hours of the astronauts’ time aboard the under-construction Chinese space station Tiangong. In the three-minute-long clip, the astronauts can be seen working inside the Tianhe Module, the core module of the Chinese space station, setting up the parts, going to take a nap and enjoying their meals while boxes float in zero gravity. The clip also shows a glimpse of how the earth looks from there as the space station is orbiting around it.
The astronauts reached the space station on June 17, seven hours after they launched the Shenzhou-12 capsule riding the Long March 2F rocket from the Jiuquan satellite launch centre in the Gobi desert in Northern China. On June 23, Chinese President Xi Jinping talked to the astronauts during a five-minute call. According to a South China Morning Post report, Jinping said, “You will spend three months in space and, while in space, your work and your life there will be in the hearts of the Chinese public.”
The space mission will last three months with the main purpose of successfully deploying the 22.5-tonne Tianhe module, the core portion of the Chinese space station.
The crewed space mission will be the longest manned mission in the history of Chinese space endeavours and a first in nearly five years. China is catching up with the United States in space after the Asian country was denied participation on the International Space Station because of geopolitics, a project run by the United States. However, when the construction of the Chinese space station is finished, India will also be one of the countries that first get to conduct experiments in space. In 2019, India too expressed its disinterest in joining the International Space Station and building one of its own.