China is poised to launch three astronauts to its Tiangong space station on Tuesday morning (Nov. 29), and you can watch the action live.
A Long March 2F rocket is scheduled to launch the Shenzhou 15 mission toward Tiangong on Tuesday from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 10:08 a.m. EST (1508 GMT; 11:08 p.m. local time).
You can watch live here at Space.com, courtesy of CCTV, or directly from the Chinese broadcaster (opens in new tab). Coverage begins at 6:30 a.m. EST (1130 GMT).
Related: Chinese astronauts enter newly arrived cargo spacecraft at Tiangong space station
Shenzhou 15 will send Fei Junlong (the mission’s commander), Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu to Tiangong for a roughly six-month stay. The mission is expected to arrive at the T-shaped space station about six hours after launch.
The Shenzhou 15 astronauts will meet three of their counterparts aboard Tiangong — the crew of Shenzhou 14, which launched in early June. This will be a first for China, which has never supported two crews on the orbiting outpost simultaneously before.
The overlap will be brief, however; Shenzhou 14 is expected to return to Earth in the coming days.
Tiangong is about 20% as massive as the International Space Station. The Chinese outpost is now fully constructed; its assembly phase ended shortly after the arrival of Mengtian, its third and final module, on Oct. 31.
China plans to continue operating Tiangong for at least the next 10 years. Most of its occupants over that span will presumably be homegrown astronauts, but Chinese space officials have said they may eventually open the station to foreign spaceflyers and perhaps even to space tourists.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).