China may have successfully sent its first astronauts to its new space station module this month, but back on the ground authorities are still readying a new rocket in case of emergency.
Three Chinese astronauts launched to Tianhe, the country’s first space station module, on the Shenzhou 12 mission on June 17. They rode to space on a Long March 2F and docked with Tianhe just over 6 hours after liftoff. The crew, consisting of astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo, entered the module shortly after.
Now, engineers back at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert are preparing another Long March 2F rocket and the Shenzhou 13 spacecraft for the China National Space Administration. The pair are to be ready on the pad for a rapid launch in the event of an emergency.
Video: Watch China’s 1st space station crew enter Tianhe module