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

China is expected to launch next week the critical core module of the country’s space station from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s Hainan province.

The “Tianhe-1” core module is to be lofted by a Long March-5B Y2 rocket, reportedly ready for rollout to the launch site.

China’s space station expected to be completed around 2022.
CMS/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Earlier this week, the space-tracking ship Yuanwang-5 departed from a port in east China’s Jiangsu Province for a “maritime monitoring mission” in the Pacific Ocean, according to the Xinhua news agency. That vessel, China’s third-generation space-tracking ship, has completed 73 missions at sea, including maritime tracking of the Shenzhou spacecraft, the Chang’e lunar probe and BeiDou satellites.

Cargo spacecraft

The Long March-7 Y3 launch vehicle arrived at the Wenchang Space Launch Center to launch the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft, already at the launch site, to the station.

Additionally, a Long March-2F launch vehicle and the Shenzhou-12 crew spacecraft have arrived at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Gansu Province, China.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Final preparations

At both launch sites, final preparation are underway to launch the Tianhe core module, then the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft, followed by the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft with a crew of three astronauts.

According to Yang Liwei, China’s first astronaut, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) is set to send a cadre of 12 astronauts into space in 2021 and 2022 to build China’s orbiting outpost.

Crew members for the four crewed flights necessary to piece together and operate the space station have been chosen and are undergoing mission training.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screengrab

The upcoming launch of the core module is a foundational element of the Chinese orbiting complex.

“After we launch the core module, we will send a cargo spacecraft to dock with it. And then we will launch the Shenzhou-12 spacecraft,” said Yang in a recent CCTV interview. “That’s why I say it is critical this year, as all the flight missions rely on our core module and it must succeed. The launch of the core module will be a milestone indeed,” Yang added.

Go to these China Central Television (CCTV) videos about the country’s space station plans:

One Response to “China to Loft Key Space Station Module”

  • Lee Brandon-Cremer says:

    Of course the image showing a completed Space Station is incorrect as the upper or zenith hub of the forward docking hub
    is simply an EVA hatch, not a docking hub.

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