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The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday morning Beijing time. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Three astronauts entered China's new space station for the first time after riding into space on the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft launched from the edge of the Gobi Desert on Thursday, according to AP.

Why it matters: Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo are set to occupy the station for a three-month mission, marking the country's longest crewed space mission ever and the first in almost five years.

Details: The Shenzhou-12 was launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, atop a Long March 2F rocket.

The big picture: This is the third of 11 missions needed to complete the construction of the permanent space station, the first component of which was launched into orbit in April.

  • China's government is excluded from the International Space Station program — the only other space station in orbit.

What's next: The astronauts' main goal is to bring into service the first component of the station, the Tianhe module, Cmdr. Nie said, per the BBC.

  • "We need to set up our new home in space and test a series of new technologies," Nie said ahead of the Shenzhou-12 launch.
  • "I believe with the three of us working closely together, doing thorough and accurate operations, we can overcome our challenges. We have the confidence to complete the mission."

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Sep 18, 2021 - Science

Inspiration4's all-civilian crew calls Tom Cruise from space

Photo: Neil Mockford/GC Images via Getty Images

The all-civilian SpaceX crew called actor Tom Cruise on Friday, giving him a glimpse into their experience in orbit two days after the successful Inspiration4 launch.

Don't forget: NASA announced last year that it would work with Cruise on a film aboard the International Space Station — though it's unclear where that currently stands.

Updated 7 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 9 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.