Sci-Tech

China raises its space game with Shenzhou-11 launch

One small step for humanity, one giant leap for the People's Republic of China.

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Shenzhou 11 launched Monday from the Gobi Desert.

Xinhua

China's economy is slowing down, but that's OK. The country looks to have bigger, intergalactic fish to fry.

The country on Monday launched the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft, which is expected to dock with the Tiangong 2 space lab for 30 days, reports the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The Shenzhou 11 carries two astronauts: 50-year-old Jing Haipeng and 37-year-old Chen Dong.

Xi Jinping, China's president, encouraged the astronauts to "constantly break new ground for the manned space program, so that Chinese people will take bigger steps and march further in space probe, to make new contribution to the building of China into a space power."

The country has become quite active in the intergalactic arena this year. In June, it sent the Long March 7 carrier rocket on its maiden voyage. In August, China unveiled the rover it plans to send to Mars in 2020. Last month, it launched the aforementioned Tiangong 2 space lab.

China isn't the only one with eyes on the red planet. US President Barack Obama predicted last week that NASA will land humans on Mars by the 2030s.