China Successfully Launches Second Out of Three Space Station Modules

China Successfully Launches Second Out of Three Space Station Modules
China Successfully Launches Second Space Station Module

Beijing - China launched the second of three modules to its permanent space station, Sunday (24/772022). It is one of the last missions required to complete an orbiting outpost by the end of the year.

A live feed on state broadcaster CCTV shows the 23-ton Wentian ("Quest for the Heavens") laboratory module launched behind China's most powerful rocket, the Long March 5B, at 06:22 GMT (14:22 Singapore time) from the Launch Center Wenchang Space on the southern island of Hainan.

Space agency staff, seen on a live broadcast observing the launch progress from the control room, cheered and applauded when Wentian separated from the rocket about 10 minutes after launch. 'The launch was a total success,' CCTV reported shortly after.

China began building the space station in April 2021 with the launch of the Tianhe module, the main residence, in the first of 11 manned and unmanned missions in the venture. The Wentian lab module, 17.9m long, will be where astronauts can conduct scientific experiments, along with other lab modules that Mengtian has yet to launch ("Dream of Heaven").

Wentian has an airlock cabin which is the main entrance and exit for extravehicular activities when the station is finished. It will also serve as a short-term residence for astronauts during crew rotation at the station, designed for long-term accommodation of just three astronauts.

Mengtian is expected to launch in October and, like Wentian, will dock with Tianhe, forming a T-shaped structure.

The completion of the structure, about a fifth of the International Space Station (ISS) en masse, is a source of pride among ordinary Chinese and will end President Xi Jinping's 10 years as leader of the ruling Communist Party of China.

On the space station are Shenzhou-14 mission commander Chen Dong and his teammates Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe. They are scheduled to return to Earth in December with the arrival of the Shenzhou-15 crew.

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