Final module docks at China's Tiangong space station
November 1, 2022 - China has completed the construction of its space station. Tiangong (Palace in the Sky) will link up with Beijing’s planned Xuntian space telescope and host experiments in orbit, around 400km above the Earth.
The laboratory module, named Mengtian -- or “Dreaming of the Heavens” -- was launched on a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang launch centre on China’s southern island of Hainan, China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) said.
CMSA said Mengtian, currently connected to the core module’s front docking port, will be moved to a side port to restore the station’s symmetry and complete its basic T-shape configuration.
Mengtian carries a trio of optical clocks intended to keep time with unprecedented precision and seven minilabs for research ranging from fluids physics to materials science.
According to CMSA, Mengtian also has a dedicated area -- 32 cubic metres of its nearly 110 cubic metres total volume -- for astronauts to work, but no sleeping area or toilet.
China’s first space-based optical telescope, known as Xuntian -- “Space Sentinel” -- is due for launch in 2023. Xuntian will fly in the same orbit as the space station but will work independently, researching the universe’s formation and dark matter.
In December, the Tianzhou 5 cargo craft and the Shenzhou 15 crew will arrive at the orbiting outpost for the station’s first-ever crew handover.
- Final module docks at China's Tiangong space station (AFP)
- China’s space station takes final shape with arrival of Mengtian module (South China Morning Post)
- China launches Mengtian science module to Tiangong space station (NASA)
- China launches final module to complete Tiangong space station (SPACE.com)