(L to R) Ye Guangfu, Wang Yaping and Zhai Zhigang, the second crew for China’s new space station, ahead of their launch. | Photo by -/CCTV/AFP via Getty Images
China successfully launched a new crew of three taikonauts into orbit this afternoon, sending them en route to the country’s primary space station, dubbed Tianhe. The crew will meet up with the station in roughly eight hours, sparking a six-month stay in orbit. It’s set to be the longest mission taikonauts have ever taken in space.
The three taikonauts include commander Zhai Zhigang, Wang Yaping, and Ye Guangfu, part of China’s Shenzhou 13 mission. Zhai has been to space before and even performed the first spacewalk for China back in 2008 during the Shenzhou 7 mission. This will be Wang’s second spaceflight, and she will become the first woman to visit the Tianhe station.