The Long March-5B Y3 rocket launched at 14:22 Beijing time (09:22 Moscow time) from the Wenchang Cosmodrome in Hainan Province in southern China. Approximately eight minutes later, the laboratory module separated and entered its assigned orbit.
According to the China Manned Flight Program Administration (CMSA), the docking took place at 03:13 on July 25 (22:13, July 24 Moscow time). The module is attached to the front port of the Tianhe base module. Now the three current members of the station’s crew will have to master the new available space.
“Wentian” (translated from Chinese – “questions to the sky”) is by far the largest spacecraft launched by the PRC. It weighs about 20 tons. The length of about 18 m is comparable to the height of a six-story building.
Basically, the module will be used as a laboratory for biological research. It also has three sleeping areas, a kitchen and a bathroom. This will allow up to six cosmonauts to be placed on the station during a crew change.
Earlier, on June 5, it was reported that the Chinese Shenzhou-14 spacecraft with three crew members on board went to the Tiangong orbital station. The launch of the Long March-2F carrier rocket with Chinese astronauts on board took place at the Jiuquan Cosmodrome in Gansu Province, in northwest China.
The Shenzhou-14 crew will stay on the Tiangong orbital station for six months and will be the third aboard the Chinese space station.
The Tiangong Space Station, also known as the China Space Station, is a low-Earth orbiting orbital spacecraft at an altitude of 340 to 450 km above the Earth’s surface, which is used by the China National Space Administration for research activities in space.
The Wentian Laboratory Module is the No. 1 Experimental Module of China’s Tiangong Modular Orbital Station. The module can be used as a work and living space, command compartment and as a shelter.
It is planned that the Shenzhou-14 crew will dock the module to the Tianhe base module, as well as test the lock chamber and the manipulator.