China Launches Tiangong-2 Successfully

September 16, 2016
Editor: Joyce Dong

China launches space lab Tiangong-2 into space on September 15, paving the way for a permanent space station the country plans to build around 2022. [Xinhua/Ju Zhenhua]

 

China successfully launched the Tiangong-2 space lab on Thursday night from the Jiuquan satellite launch center in northwest China.

The mission is part of China's ambitious space program to build a permanent manned space station around year 2022.

With a rumbling sound on the vast Gobi dessert, Tiangong-2 space lab blasted off into space propelled by its Long March 2F carrier rocket, shortly after 10pm on Thursday.

In just 585 seconds, Tiangong-2 was placed in an orbit about 393 kilometers above the Earth.

In space, Tiangong-2 is expected to link with Shenzhou-11 manned spaceship, which will be launched later in October.

The Shenzhou-11 spaceship will ferry two astronauts to dock with the lab and stay in space for 30 days to conduct a range of scientific experiments covering areas such as fundamental physics, biology, fluid mechanics in micro gravity and aerospace medicine.

Many experiments are at the very forefront of space science exploration, and one of them is the world's first in-space cold atomic clock.

The atomic clock is used to improve time measurements to the equivalent of one second every 30 million years, and will also result in improvements in navigation accuracy.

Lv Congmoin, Deputy director at the technology and engineering center for space utilization, Chinese academy of sciences, says the project is going to be very beneficial to people's daily life.

"The synchronization of the navigation system on our mobile phone runs via the internet. But the function of time correction systems all depends on numerous atomic clocks on the ground. If we can maintain the smooth running of the cold atomic clock in space, time synchronization between the earth and space can finally be achieved, thus improving navigation accuracy. "

Tiangong-2 was originally built as a back up to China's first space lab prototype Tiangong-1, which went into orbit in 2011.

The new space lab, designed with two modules, offers a larger payload capacity, better living quarters, and new communication technologies on board.

As a major breakthrough in the "three step strategy" proposed by Chinese scientists toward the goal of building a permanent manned space station, the Tiangong2 is expected to further boost the development of China's space exploration.

Chief designer of the Tiangong-2 space lab Zhu Zongpeng explains.

"Tiangong 2 is the first space vehicle in the second phase of the second step of the strategy. It's going to dock with Shenzhou-11 this year, and with a cargo vessel next year. Once it has completed missions of long term space stays, facility maintenance, refueling, and space experiments, it will be the end of the phase. If we cannot carry out the mission well, it's going to affect the building of the space station directly. So Tiangong-2 has great significance in the process. "

Tiangong-1 ended its data service earlier this year.

The manned space engineering office said in March that the orbit of Tiangong-1 will descend gradually over several months until the orbiter eventually burns up in the atmosphere.

 

China's space lab Tiangong-2 roars into the air on the back of a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, on September 15. [Xinhua/Ju Zhenhua]

China's space lab Tiangong-2 roars into the air on the back of a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, on September 15. [Xinhua/Ju Zhenhua]

China's space lab Tiangong-2 roars into the air on the back of a Long March-2F rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China, on September 15. [Xinhua/Ju Zhenhua]

 

(Source: CRI English)

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