Core module of China’s first space station.
Credit: CGTN/Inside Outer Space screengrab

 

The core module of China’s first space station has reached the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on Monday, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMCEO).

Credit: CGTN/Inside Outer Space screengrab

 

 

Named “Tianhe” — meaning harmony in the sky — the core is the management and control center of the space station. It is 54 feet (16.6 meters) long, with a maximum diameter of 14 feet (4.2 meters) and a launch mass of 22.5 tons.

Credit: CGTN/Inside Outer Space screengrab

 

 

Guidance, navigation and control

According to China Global Television Network (CGTN) and Xinhua news services, the core module can host three astronauts and do long-term missions in orbit. It will manage guidance, navigation and control for the entire space station. To date, it is the largest spacecraft developed by China and is able to support various space science and technical experiments inside and outside the capsule.

The module also contains a non-habitable service section and a docking hub.

Credit: CGTN/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Robotic arm

Tianhe-1’s debut also featured engineers from China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) to showcase the operation of a robotic arm to help station occupants to grab, hold and move objects.

Credit: CGTN/Inside Outer Space screengrab

 

A Long March-5B booster is scheduled to arrive at the Wenchang space launch site in early February. The mission is expected to be carried out later in 2020. This would be followed by a series of launches for other components of the space station, including two space labs, which will dock with the core module.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

New-generation spacecraft

In a related story, China’s new-generation piloted spacecraft is ready for a test launch, said the China Manned Space Engineering Office on Monday.

A test ship arrived safely at south China’s Wenchang Space Launch Center on Monday.

According to CCTV, the orbit height of the unpiloted test flight will be about 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) – an altitude never reached by China’s Shenzhou series manned spacecraft.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Greater heat resistance

“The new spacecraft uses new heat-resistant material and structure, which is only a third in density compared to the Shenzhou spacecraft, but the heat resistance is three to four times greater,” said Huang Zhen, chief assistant designer of the new manned spacecraft.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

“We also upgraded our control on the return trip, which means we will further improve the accuracy of the landing point, and at the same time make sure the astronauts can withstand the impact,” Huang told CCTV.

The test ship will be launched by the Long March-5B rocket. There will also be verification on a new landing method using grouped parachutes and airbags, as well as reusability-related technologies.

A China Global Television Network (CGTN) detailing the core module and China’s space station plans can be viewed here at:

https://news.cgtn.com/news/33637a4e316b7a6333566d54/index.html

For a CCTV video on China’s new spaceship, go to:

https://youtu.be/ZWQEpIhJfmk

 

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