The China Manned Space Agency has launched the Wentian Module, a new laboratory module, to its space station on Sunday. The 17.9 meter module will join Tianhe, China's first space station module launched in April 2021.
Wentian, weighing 23 tons, is the second of China's three modules with Mengtian, the third module, scheduled to launch in October to complete the T-shaped Tiangong space station which will be around 20% of the size of the International Space Station (ISS), which has a mass of about 460 tons.
Three astronauts of the Shenzhou 14 mission are currently aboard Tianhe waiting for the new module. Wentian's function is to house experiments that astronauts conduct in space and it also carries solar arrays and a new airlock for spacewalks.
The main module's robotic arm will be used to reposition Wentian to a side port at some time in the coming months, and Wentian's own robotic arm will be used to connect with the Tianhe arm. Earlier this year, China tested the necessary maneuvers using Tianzhou 3, a cargo spacecraft that delivered supplies to the space station to support an earlier crew mission. The spacecraft was released days ago to make way for the arrival of Wentian.
The country plans to keep the Tiangong space station permanently crewed for at least a decade, with each crew of three astronauts spending six months on board.
Source: China Manned Space Agency
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