(ORDO NEWS) — The Wentian laboratory module was launched from the Wenchang Cosmodrome in China. The module is one of two scheduled to launch this year on China’s Tiangong space station, with the second being Mengtian, scheduled to launch in October.
Both modules will be launched on China’s most powerful Chang Zheng 5B (CZ-5B) rocket to date and will be aimed at the low Earth orbit (LEO) of the Tiangong space station, which is in orbit at an altitude of 390 km and an inclination of 41.58°. Both ships are docking at the main module of the Tianhe station, which was launched in April 2021.
Wentian (Sky Search) is a laboratory cabin module (LCM) and one of the three main modules of the Chinese space station.
It will provide not only the scientific space of the station, but also additional navigation, avionics, propulsion and attitude control capabilities. It measures 17.9 meters with a diameter of 4.2 meters and weighs about 22 tons
and will house a variety of research facilities, including a life and ecology rack, a biotechnology rack, an advanced aerospace technology rack, a cryogenic storage rack, and a research facility. It also provides additional payload racks for future, planned scientific instruments.
Wentian also has the ability to conduct scientific experiments outside the module to study various effects on various types of probes, including studies of cosmic rays, the space environment, and the solar wind.
On the side of the module, two 30m solar arrays will be used to power the station and the module. The exact capabilities of these two solar arrays are unknown, as are details about the Wentian module.
It is known that the module will be equipped with an airlock system that will help the station in future spacewalks. It also includes a second mechanical arm and additional crew cabins to accommodate more people on the station.
Initially, the module docks with the axial port of the main module of the Tianhe station. The station’s robotic arm will then move the module to the desired radial port.
This is necessary because China has decided to simplify some of the Tianhe module’s docking ports. This has resulted in the ports of Wentian and Mengtian having no active docking systems. A similar process was previously used on the Russian space station Mir.
Tiangong Space Station launched in April 2021 with the launch of the main module Tianhe (Harmony of Heaven). It is planned that after the final assembly, the mass of the station will be 100 tons, which is approximately 20% of the International Space Station, which weighs about 440 tons.
The planned service life of the Tiangong is at least 10 years, with a possible extension after that. He will be accompanied by the China Survey Space Telescope (CSST), which is scheduled to launch in 2023. This telescope will operate in close proximity to the Tiangong station and periodically dock to it for inspection and maintenance.
The telescope will be equipped with a primary mirror 2 meters in diameter and is planned to be able to see 40 percent of the sky with a 2.5 gigapixel camera.
It is currently planned that the 15.5-ton heavy telescope will be launched on a rocket of the same type as all three modules of the station – CZ-5B.
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