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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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Aug 3, 2021 - Science

Why the space race is worth running

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Billionaires, not governments, are the contestants in the new space race. Their competition is drawing criticism and eye rolling — and sparking debate about whether it actually benefits the rest of us.

The big picture: International and corporate competition have been a part of the space industry since the launch of Sputnik nearly 65 years ago.

Landlords mount legal challenge to Biden admin's new eviction moratorium

President Biden at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

A group of landlords and real-estate companies issued a legal challenge on Wednesday night in a D.C. district court to the Biden administration's new national eviction moratorium.

Driving the news: The Alabama and Georgia Associations of Realtors' emergency motion argues that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's order Tuesday barring evictions for most of the U.S. through Oct. 3 exceeds the CDC's powers, according to a statement from the National Association of Realtors.

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

U.S. Olympic beach volleyball duo one step away from realizing gold medal dream

April Ross and Alix Klineman of Team USA celebrate after the play against Team Cuba during the Women's Round of 16 beach volleyball on day ten of the Tokyo Games. Photo: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Alix Klineman and April Ross are guaranteed to earn at least an Olympic silver medal after defeating Switzerland 2-0 in the Tokyo Games on Thursday morning local time.

Of note: It's the latest chapter in an enduring partnership, driven by past failures and bound by future aspirations.