BEIJING, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Three Chinese astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-12 spaceship entered China's space station core module Tianhe on Thursday, embarking on the country's first crewed mission during the construction of the station, a space trip that has won congratulations from space agencies and scholars across the world.
"Roscosmos sends sincere congratulations to China on the successful launch of three taikonauts on the Shenzhou-12 crewed spacecraft to the new Chinese Tianhe space station" core module, said Russia's state space corporation in a statement released Thursday on its official website.
"China has made another confident step forward," Roscosmos said, adding that Russia and China will become "lasting and reliable partners" in long-term exploration of the outer space.
"Congratulations to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) on the launch of three 'taikonauts' on their Shenzhou-12 mission to the Tianhe (Heavenly Harmony) space station," the European Space Agency tweeted.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson also extended his congratulations to China on the latest mission. "I look forward to the scientific discoveries to come," according to his Thursday statement on the U.S. agency's website.
The Brazilian Space Agency tweeted it congratulates the CNSA on "the successful launch of the first crewed mission to the new Chinese Space Station."
"We wish many achievements to China in this challenging space initiative," the agency noted.
The crew's planned three-month stay in the station will offer scientists more insights into the living, work and health conditions of an astronaut in microgravity, which in turn "will be useful for future moon missions or Mars missions or further afield," said Paul Francis, an astrophysicist at the Australian National University.
The Chinese mission may serve as a boost to international space exploration and cooperation, said Francis in an interview with Xinhua, after the launch.
Pablo Hollar, an Argentine expert in aerospace engineering, told Xinhua that China once again sending three astronauts to the outer space is an achievement that attracts worldwide attention.
The Shenzhou-12 spaceship, with vastly improved functions compared with the previous Shenzhou series, undertook the country's first round-trip mission to the space station, illustrating the great progress of China's scientific research, said Hollar, who also leads the Aerospace Division of VENG, a company held by Argentina's National Commission for Space Activities. Enditem