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China launches space tracking ship

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Beijing, July 12 (IANS) China’s new generation of space tracking ship, the Yuanwang-7, which will perform maritime tracking of manned spaceflight Shenzhou-11, was formally launched on Tuesday after a 60-day trial period.

The vessel, designed by China, marks a new high for China’s space tracking technology, said an official statement.

The construction of the ship started on October 10, 2014, in Jiangnan Shipyard (Group) Co., Ltd. The 220 metre-long, 40 metre-high ship has a displacement of 25,000 tonnes, Xinhua news agency reported.

Capable of resisting strong typhoons, the ship can carry supplies to last for 100 days, the statement said.

China owns a fleet of seven Yuanwang space tracking ships, which have carried out some 70 expeditions and travelled more than 1.5 million nautical miles in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans.

Shenzhou-11 will carry two astronauts to dock with Tiangong-2, China’s second orbiting space lab to be launched later this year. The docking is expected to allow two astronauts to live in space for up to 30 days.

The Yuanwang-1 and Yuanwang-2 ships, China’s first-generation space tracking vessels, were launched in 1979.

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