On Sunday, July 24, China sent to space the second of three modules for its Tiangong orbital station. The Long March-5B launch vehicle carrying the Wentian laboratory module lifted off from the Wenchang Cosmodrome on Hainan Island, according to Chinese state media.

Several hundred people watched the launch of the module from the beaches and photographed the spectacular event. According to CMSA, the Wentian space module separated from the rocket eight minutes after launch and entered its intended orbit.

The new module has a length of almost 18 meters, its diameter is 4.2 meters, and it weighs 22 tons. It is equipped with a sleeping area for three people, a compartment for conducting scientific experiments, and there is also a built-in kitchen.

In October, the station will be supplemented by the Mengtian module

The new module must dock with the base module “Tianhe”, which is located in outer space from April 2021. According to experts, this will be a serious challenge and will require the use of a robotic arm-manipulator installed on the Tianhe. In addition, Wentian will serve as a backup base in case problems arise in an existing module. The departure and arrival of the third Mengtian module is scheduled for October.

According to estimates, the station should work in near-Earth orbit for about ten years, and it will become fully operational from the end of 2022. China also intends to build a base on moon and until 2030 is going to send people there. China does not participate in the program of missions to the International Space Station (ISS).

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