China has launched a three-person crew for a six-month mission aboard its space station.
The trio will set a new record for the length of time spent in space by Chinese astronauts as the country moves towards complete the orbiting structure.
The Shenzhou-13 spaceship carrying the three astronauts was launched by a Long March-2F rocket at 12.25am local time.
It is expected to complete docking with the Tianhe module within the next six hours, beginning the mission that will continue the work of the initial crew.
Those crew members conducted two spacewalks and deployed a 33ft mechanical arm before returning from their 90-day stay in mid-September.
The new crew includes two veterans of space travel – pilot Zhai Zhigang, 55, and Wang Yaping, 41, the only woman on the mission – and Ye Guangfu, 41, who is making his first trip to space.
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