China sends new space station crew to moon before 2030.

On Tuesday, China launched a new three-person crew for its orbiting space station to send people to the moon by the end of the decade.

At 9:30 a.m. (0130 GMT) Tuesday, a Long March 2-F rocket launched the Shenzhou 16 spacecraft from the Jiuquan launch complex on the edge of the Gobi Desert in northwestern China.

China's first civilian astronaut will temporarily join three Tiangong station astronauts, who will return to Earth following their six-month mission.

On Monday, space program leaders announced plans to extend the station and undertake a crewed lunar trip before 2030.

After being barred from the International Space Station, China constructed its own space station owing to U.S. worries about its close links to the People's Liberation Army, the military arm of the governing Communist Party.

China's 2003 human space mission was the third after the former Soviet Union and the U.S.

Payload specialist Gui Haichao, a professor at Beijing's top aerospace research center, will accompany mission commander Maj. Gen. Jing Haipeng, who is undertaking his fourth space voyage, and spacecraft engineer Zhu Yangzhu on this newest mission.

The crew will perform scientific investigations and upkeep for five months on the station.

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