The Shenzhou-14 mission with three Chinese astronauts lifts off at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre. AFP
A Long March-2F rocket transporting the Shenzhou-14, or "Divine Vessel" in Chinese, blasted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 10:44am (0244 GMT), a live broadcast by state television showed.
Construction of the space station began last year with the launch of the first and largest of its three modules — Tianhe — the living quarters of visiting astronauts. The modules Wentian and Mengtian are to be launched in July and October, respectively, docking with Tianhe to form a T-shaped structure.
Chinese astronauts Cai Xuzhe (left), Chen Dong and Liu Yang wave before a sendoff ceremony on Sunday. AP
Shenzhou-14 mission commander Chen Dong, 43, and team mates Liu Yang, 43, and Cai Xuzhe, 46, all from China's second cohort of astronauts, will live and work on the space station for six months before returning to Earth in December with the arrival of the Shenzhou-15 crew.
Former air force pilot Chen with Liu, who became China's first female astronaut in space a decade ago, and space mission debutant Cai, will oversee the rendezvous, docking and integration of Wentian and Mengtian with the core module.
They will also install equipment inside and outside the space station and carry out a range of scientific research.
"The Shenzhou-14 mission is a pivotal battle in the construction stage of China's space station," Chen told a news conference in Jiuquan on Saturday. "The task will be tougher, there will be more problems and the challenges will be greater."
The space station is designed for a lifespan of at least a decade.
During the mission, astronaut Wang Yaping carried out the first spacewalk by a Chinese woman. Wang and crewmates Zhai Zhigang and Ye Guangfu beamed back physics lessons for high school students.
The six-month mission, commanded by Fei Junlong and crewed by Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu, will be the last "in the construction phase of China’s space station,” agency official Ji Qiming told reporters Monday.
"Seeing someone like Al Mansoori go up there makes me feel that he carries a part of my dream with him. Its hard to put this feeling into words so maybe by creating this picture of him is my way of thanking him for it. I’m proud of what he has accomplished," said Alapide.
The meeting in the city of Yevlakh, more than 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of the capital Baku, comes as the UN Security Council holds an emergency session on the fighting which broke out this week.
Blasts were heard in Kyiv and the surrounding region after an air raid alert, Reuters witnesses said. Authorities reported sending rescue teams to several locations in the capital.
In this context, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed held bilateral meetings with Rashad Al-Alimi, the President of Yemen and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, His Excellency Elmedin Konaković.
Set to be held from 26-27 September 2023, the region’s largest gathering for media professionals will focus on the influence of artificial intelligence on the media and the broader creative landscape and the critical need for the world to commit to sustainability.