China’s second laboratory module, a huge part of its space station, took off at the Wenchang spaceport in Southern China on Sunday.
The 59-feet-tall, 20-ton laboratory module was packed inside the Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket and sent into space in a first for the manned space program of China.
According to reports, this would be the first time in China’s space history that astronauts are on board Tiangong while a docking will take place.
The three astronauts aboard the station – Chen Dong, Liu Yang, and Cai Xuzhe would oversee the docking process.
Reports said the three arrived at the under-construction Tiangong station in early June and were on a six-month mission.
The laboratory module, Wentian, with four fridge-size experiment cabinets and 22 external mounting points, would support a wide range of space-based life sciences.
According to the state-owned China Space News, the Tiangong station could house a total of 25 experiment cabinets, while the maximum capacity for the Wentian is eight experiment cabinets.
Earlier, Wang Ke, a member of the experiment cabinet development team, said that Tiangong would host more than 1,000 scientific experiments over the next ten years.
On Friday, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation Deputy Chief Designer of Tiangong Liao Jinlin said the whole-system test was successful.
“The testing data from Wentian is consistent with our design. We can say that the entire module is working well,” Liao said.
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