Space lab to fin­ish its ser­vice in July

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHANG ZHIHAO zhangzhi­hao@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

Tian­gong-2, China’s space lab or­bit­ing Earth, will be safely re­moved from or­bit un­der man­ual con­trol after July, se­nior space en­gi­neers said on Wed­nes­day.

Launched on Sept 15, 2016, Tian­gong-2 has ful­filled all its planned mis­sions within its de­signed two-year life span. It will fo­cus on con­duct­ing ex­per­i­ments and test­ing new space ap­pli­ca­tions that can ben­e­fit so­ci­ety dur­ing its re­main­ing days, said Lin Xiqiang, deputy di­rec­tor of the China Manned Space Engi­neer­ing Of­fice.

These ben­e­fits in­clude pro­vid­ing valu­able ge­o­log­i­cal data for re­search and disas­ter re­lief, and en­hanc­ing lo­cal economies in Ningxia and Yun­nan prov­inces, home to many sec­tors of the Chi­nese space in­dus­try, he said.

Much like Tian­gong-1, its pre­de­ces­sor, plans call for Tian­gong-2 to de­scend on a guided track through the at­mos­phere, where most of its struc­ture will burn up, and the rem­nants will fall safely into the ocean. Tian­gong-1 was taken out of or­bit on April 2, and it blazed through the at­mos­phere be­fore fall­ing into the south­ern Pa­cific Ocean.

Tian­gong-2 has served as a sym­bol of na­tional pride and science ed­u­ca­tion, Lin said. One no­table achieve­ment on­board Tian­gong-2 is the cold atomic clock, the world’s first and most ac­cu­rate time­piece, which would take 300 bil­lion years to lose one se­cond.

“All of Tian­gong-2’s pay­load mod­ules are func­tion­ing prop­erly and in good con­di­tion,” Lin said.

On Sept 20, the man­age­ment com­mit­tee for Tian­gongde­cided the space lab would fin­ish its ser­vice in July, and then would be taken out of or­bit un­der man­ual con­trol, he added.

Zhu Zong­peng, chief en­gi­neer of Tian­gong-2, said the space lab has many built-in fail-safe and self-pro­cess­ing sys­tems that can au­to­mat­i­cally deal with emer­gen­cies and en­sure its safe de­scent.

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