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News in Space Science

posted Oct 25, 2016, 7:07 AM by Jeffrey Wolf

By: Korey Alder, Media Editor

Posted October 25th, 2016

This week, China's space agency began what will be, upon completion, their longest manned mission. Two Chinese astronauts, Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong, were launched to the Tiangong 2 Space Station on-board the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft. The astronauts currently visiting the station will stay in space for one month, studying plant growth and performing checks on themselves to help understand the effects of zero gravity on human health. The goal of Tiangong 2 is to assist China in developing new technologies for their next station, so Tiangong 2 itself is small and not designed with permanence in mind.

Meanwhile, in the US, a new space race is emerging. In this race, however, there is not a conflict between nations but between companies. Boeing, Blue Origin, and SpaceX all want to be the first to send people to another planet: Mars. Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has said that he believes the first person to walk on Mars will travel there on a Boeing rocket, and this may very well be the case. The company is working with NASA on the Space Launch System, and truly massive rocket that might one day soon take people (via an Orion space capsule) to the ISS, the Moon, and even Mars. Around the same time of his comment, SpaceX's Elon Musk revealed his plan to hopefully reach Mars in the next ten years, and colonize the planet over the next century. Blue Origin also hopes to do some of these same things, and both SpaceX and Blue Origin have managed many successful launches (and impressive landings) of their respective launch vehicles.