Credit: CNSA/GlobaLink/Inside Outer Space screengrab

China lofted its Mengtian lab module atop a Long March-5B Y4 booster on Monday (Beijing Time) from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of the southern island province of Hainan.

The 23.3-ton Mengtian is over 17 meters long, with a diameter of four meters – the heaviest payload China has ever launched to date.

In-orbit transposition

Following its rendezvous and docking with China’s Tianhe core module later today, and once completing its in-orbit transposition, Mengtian will form a T-shape together with its sister lab module Wentian and the core module to complete the in-orbit construction of China’s space station.

Credit: CNSA/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The scientific equipment in the Mengtian module will be used for studying microgravity thanks to a bevy of fluid physics, materials science, combustion science and fundamental physics experiments.

Final construction

Launch success.
Credit: CNSA/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

To be completed by year’s end, China’s Tiangong space station complex – given the new module’s addition, will be comprised of the Tianhe core module, along with the earlier-launched Wentian lab module, a Tianzhou-4 cargo vessel and the Shenzhou-14 crewed spaceship.

In-construction: China’s space station.
Credit: CMSA/CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Now on orbit for a six month mission, the Shenzhou-14 astronauts — Chen Dong, Liu Yang and Cai Xuzhe – be on hand for Mengtian’s berthing and re-positioning, a soon-to-be-launched Tianzhou-5 cargo craft, and the three-person crew of Shenzhou-15.

For videos capturing the launch of the Mengtian module, go to:

Also, go to this Dongfang Hour Livestream replay of the Mengtian launch and a deep dive about the module. This video can be viewed at:

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