With the successful launch of the Shenzhou-14 manned mission China is on the fast track to complete the construction of China’s space station into a national space laboratory.

What will China's space station be like once completed?

The space station will be expanded from the foundational core module Tianhe currently orbiting the Earth into a basic T-shaped three-module structure, with Tianhe in the center and the upcoming two lab modules Wentian and Mengtian on each side of it. Wentian is scheduled to arrive in July, and Mengtian in October. When the two lab capsules are in place, China’s space station will have a total living space of over 110 cubic meters, with six bedrooms and two bathrooms, which can accommodate up to six astronauts.

As a national space laboratory, a total of 25 scientific experiment cabinets will be deployed in the three modules. Each cabinet is like a highly functional mini-lab that can support experiments in certain disciplines. The complex will operate in low-Earth orbit at an altitude of about 340 km to 450 km above Earth’s surface. It has a designed life of 10 years, but experts believe it could operate more than 15 years with appropriate maintenance.

The Tianhe core module, sent into orbit in April 2021, is the command and management center of the space station. It provides propulsion to maintain the orbit of the complex and control its internal working conditions. With a length of 16.6 meters, a maximum diameter of 4.2 meters and a takeoff weight of 22.5 tonnes, it’s the largest spacecraft China has developed. With a habitable space of about 50 cubic meters, it serves as the main living place of the astronauts, where they can also conduct scientific experiments.

A total of six Chinese astronauts in two separate missions have lived and worked in the core module and returned to Earth safely. The three Shenzhou-12 crew members were the first to enter Tianhe, where they spent three months from June to September last year. Then the Shenzhou-13 crew arrived at the core module in October, 2021 and returned to Earth in April 2022, setting a new national human spaceflight duration record of 182 days. The core module has two berth ports that can connect with the two lab modules and three docking ports for any cargo vessel, manned spaceship and other spacecraft.

Source: This news is originally published by cgtn

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