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China announces second space station and crewed mission

China is preparing to place a second experimental space station into orbit this year, followed by a pair of astronauts who will dock with it and live on board for several days.

The government's China Manned Space Agency said the Tiangong 2 space lab would lift off some time after June.

The Shenzhou 11 spacecraft will follow shortly afterwards, the latest in a series of crewed Chinese missions that began in 2003.

Next year the Tianzhou 1 cargo ship will be launched to dock with the Tiangong 2 and provide it with fuel and other supplies.

China launched Tiangong 1, its first space station, in 2011 and plans to build a permanent station by 2022. China is planning a total of 20 space missions for this year.

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