China to launch new module of Tiangong space station
Only a few more days before the launch of the second module of the Tiangong space station. The China just transported the rocket to the launch pad Long March 5B which will be used to launch the module called Wentian in the space. The rocket will leave from Wenchang launch base.
The launch of the Wentian module will take place on July 24 next, and if all goes well, the module will reach Tiangong station after a few hours. Three Chinese astronauts on the mission Shenzhou 14 are currently aboard the station awaiting the arrival of the new element.
The Long March 5B rocket with the Wentian module on board was transported to the launch pad on July 18. It is a heavy launcher having a height of 53 m and weighing 849 tons.
The launch stages
Now that the rocket is on the launch pad, technicians will carry out tests to check the different systems. The Chinese authorities did not give a date and time for the launch, however, according to SpaceNews, liftoff could take place on July 24 at 06:20 GMT.
The Wentian module is currently protected by a 20.5m long cap. This will be ejected as soon as the rocket has crossed the Earth’s atmosphere. After launch, Wentian will catch up with Tiangong station which is at an altitude of 381 km. It will then dock to the front port of the module Tianhe.
Later, Wentian will be moved to the side port using a 10m robotic arm. This is where the module will stay for the next few years.
The Wentian module was designed to house a series of boxes where scientific experiments will take place in orbit. There is also an additional area for the astronauts to sleep. This will be used during crew changes. Six astronauts will then be able to temporarily inhabit the Tiangong station.
Wentian will not be the last Chinese station module to be sent into space. In October, a third module called Mengtian will be added to the other two. The whole will then form a T-shaped station that China will exploit for at least a decade.