China Launches Core Module of its Space Station Written 29 April 2021


Tianhe-1, the core module of China’s next space station. | Credit: SciNews; YouTube; framegrab

Space News reports that at 11:23 p.m. EDT Wednesday, China launched the Tianhe space station core module atop a Long March 5B rocket, “beginning an intense period of missions for constructing the nation’s own space station.” The core module “separated from the first stage after 490 seconds of flight. Solar array deployment occurred just over an hour after launch.” The uncrewed Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft is “expected to rendezvous and dock with Tianhe in mid-late May, ahead of the visit of three astronauts aboard Shenzhou-12 in June.” The missions “will be the first three of 11 launches across 2021 and 2022 to build the planned 66-ton, three-module orbital outpost.” Tianhe “is equipped with a multi-docking hub to facilitate construction of the space station and allow crew to embark on extravehicular activities.” The core module “will provide regenerative life support and the main living quarters for astronauts as well as propulsion to maintain orbital altitude.”
Full Story (Space News)