(ORDO NEWS) — China has launched the third module for its space station.
The Mengtian laboratory module was launched into space on Monday on a Long March-5B Y4 launch vehicle from the Wenchang coastal space base in the island province of Hainan.
Mengtian (Heavenly Dream) will be the second laboratory module at the Tiangong (Heavenly Palace) station. “Mengtian” will be connected to the main module “Tianhe”, where the crew lives and works.
According to the China Manned Space Agency, the Mengtian must spend 13 hours in flight before reaching Tiangong Station, home to a crew of three astronauts.
The Tianzhou cargo ship, after delivering the Mengtian, will once again dock with the station next month, and a crewed mission will depart for the station in December.
Crews can cross paths on Tiangong, as there is enough space on the station to accommodate six astronauts.
The module weighs about 20 tons with a length of 17.9 meters and a diameter of 4.2 meters. It will provide space for scientific experiments in zero gravity.
Already in orbit, the 23-ton Wentian laboratory is intended for scientific and biological experiments. It is heavier than any other single-module spacecraft currently in space.
China plans to launch the Xuntian Space Telescope next year, which, while not part of Tiangong, will be able to occasionally dock with the station for maintenance.
The Chinese station will weigh about 66 tons, and its service life will be 10-15 years.
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