The “Divine Vessel,” bound for the Tianhe space station module, took off at 9:22 am from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern Gansu Province.

China launched a spacecraft on Thursday, June 17, 2021, carrying three astronauts to part of a space station still under construction for the longest stay in low earth orbit by a Chinese national.

A 2F Long March rocket carrying the Shenzhou-12, or Divine vessel, bound for the Tianhe space station module took off at 9:22 a.m. Beijing time (0122 GMT) from the Jiuquan satellite launch center in northwestern Gansu province.

Launch time saw bright blue skies with near perfect visibility at the launch center on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

The two veteran astronauts and a newcomer on their first space flight head to Tianhe Station for a three-month stay in its main living compartment for three months while they perform experiments, test equipment, perform maintenance and prepare the station to receive two additional modules next year.