Xi congratulates Chinese astronauts aboard space station

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping has spoken with three astronauts who are making the country’s space station their home for the next three months, and called their mission an important milestone in China’s space industry. The crew consisting of former air force pilots arrived at the space station last week. Throughout their stay, they will carry out scientific experiments and space walks and prepare the station for receiving two additional modules next year. Xi asked about their health and living situation aboard the station. The astronauts, standing ramrod straight in a row, answered in the affirmative and gave a military salute before waving goodbye. The space agency plans a total of 11 launches to the station through the end of next year.