Credit: CSU

Credit: CSU

China’s second space lab Tiangong-2 has blasted off at Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China’s Gansu Province.

Wu Ping, deputy director of China Manned Space Engineering Office, explains:

“The main purpose of launching Tiangong-2 space lab is to receive the visit of the Shenzhou 11 manned spacecraft and to accomplish a medium-term stay of the astronauts. It will test relevant technologies on the astronauts’ long-term living, health and work conditions,” Wu said.

Tiangong-2 satellite deployer. Credit: CSU

Tiangong-2 satellite deployer.
Credit: CSU

The Tiangong-2 space lab will receive the visit of the Tianzhou-1 cargo ship and examine and verify the technology of in-orbit propellant replenishing. While carrying out the space medical and treatment research, space science experiments and application of space technology, the Tiangong-2 space lab will also help test and verify the in-orbit maintenance and the technology of space station, Wu said.

Critical phase

The launch of the space lab is deemed as the critical phase of China’s manned space flight, with the space lab serving as a prototype module of the future space station of the country.

Credit: CCTV

Credit: CCTV

China’s space laboratory accommodates more than 50 scientific instruments to conduct more than ten projects in-orbit, explains the Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization (CSU).

On behalf of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), CSU has participated China’s Manned Space Program (CMSP), acting as an organizer, coordinator and integrator of the Space Utilization System of CMSP. Institutes and universities inside and outside CAS have been involved in the Space Utilization System.

Credit: CCTV America

Credit: CCTV America

Experiment list

As noted by the CSU, among the experiments on the Tiangong-2 Space Lab:

  • Space Cold Atom Clock
  • Multiple Materials Experiment
  • Interferometric Imaging Radar Altimeter
  • Gamma-Ray Burst Polarimeter
  • Higher Plant Flowering and Seed-setting in Space
  • Multi-angle Polarization and Wide Band Spectral Imager
  • Space-to-Earth Quantum Key Distribution
  • Multiband Limb Imaging Ultra-Violet Spectrometer System

Tiangong-2 also carries a system to deploy a small satellite in orbit to evaluate technologies for “concomitant flying.”

Credit: CSU

Credit: CSU

The new space lab is viewed as a stepping stone to a larger Chinese space station that will be built around 2020, and will support larger scale space utilization with human-tending on a long-term basis.

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