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China launches Wentian, second of three space station modules

  • Published
    26th Jul, 2022
Context

China recently launched the second of three modules needed to complete its new space station.

About

About Wentian lab module:

  • It is the largest and heaviest the country ever sent off to its space station complex that's under construction.
  • Weighing 23 tonnes, the Wentian lab module is 17.9 meters long with a diameter of 4.2 meters.
  • It consists of three parts:
  • a work cabin,
  • an airlock cabin and
  • a resource cabin
  • Compared with the Tianhe core module, which is already operating, Wentian is larger and heavier, out competing the core module in power supply and information transmission.
  • Wentian was propelled by a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang launch centre on China's tropical island of Hainan.
  • Beijing launched the central module of its space station Tiangong -- which means "heavenly palace" -- in April 2021.
  • Almost 60 feet long and weighing 22 tonnes, the new module has three sleeping areas and space for scientific experiments.
  • It will dock with the existing module in space, a challenging operation that experts said will require several high-precision manipulations and the use of a robotic arm.
  • Wentian will also serve as a backup platform to control the space station in the event of a failure.
  • The final module to complete the space station is scheduled to dock in October, and Tiangong is expected to become fully operational by the end of the year.
  • The station will then assume its final T-shape, and be similar in size to the former Russian-Soviet Mir station.
  • Its lifespan should be at least 10 years.
  • The world's second-largest economy has poured billions into its military-run space programme, with hopes of having a permanently crewed space station and eventually sending humans to the Moon.

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