China launched a rocket Tuesday carrying three astronauts to complete construction of the country's permanent orbiting space station, during which they will expand the facility to its maximum capacity of six crew aboard, AP reports.

The crew of the Shenzhou-15 will overlap for several days with the existing 3-member crew of the Tiangong station, who will then return to Earth after their six-month mission.

Their spaceship blasted off atop a Long March-2F carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert at 11:08 p.m. Tuesday.

The six-month mission, commanded by Fei Junlong and crewed by Deng Qingming and Zhang Lu, will be the last in the station’s construction phase, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

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