In China, the docking of the “Wentian” module is a great success

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In China, the docking of the “Wentian” module is a great success

China is also making great strides in astronomy even though its astronauts have long been barred from the International Space Station (ISS) by the United States. In April 2021, this country built a space station called “Tiangong” which means “heavenly palace”. The “Tiangong” already hosts three permanent Chinese astronauts or “taikonauts”. The country launched the first module called “Tianhe” a few months ago.

And yesterday, at 2:22 p.m. (8:22 a.m. in Paris), it was the launch of the second of the three modules of the space station. This one is called “Wentian” and will be normally operational by the end of 2022. It would seem that this module was propelled by a Long March 5B rocket, from the Wenchang launch center, in the south of China.


Wentian
Credits: @ChineseCon_Mel / Twitter

Details on the “Wentian” module

The second module of the “Tiangong” space station has not yet welcomed any “taikonauts” on board. It is 18 meters long and 4.2 meters in diameter and weighs around 20 tons. It also contains equipment allowing taikonauts to perform various scientific experiments during their stay on the space station. Wentian is equipped with an airlock which will become the preferred passage for spacewalks.

This module has three sleeping areas, toilets and a kitchen. It will also serve as a backup platform to control the station in the event of a failure. After about eight minutes of flight, Wentian successfully separated from the rocket and into its intended orbit. It was a big challenge for the crew because the successive manipulations were not at all easy.

The third module will arrive in October

If all goes as planned, the third module called “Mengtian” should be launched on a long March 5B in October. Thus, it will complete the Tiangong space station to form a T-shaped structure when docked.

There are, however, concerns about where the huge Long March 5B rocket will end up, now that it has delivered Wentian. This is unlike most rockets that safely drop their lower stages into the ocean.

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