Mengtian lab arrives at Hainan launch center
The Mengtian space lab, the second lab component of China’s Tiangong space station, recently arrived at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Hainan province, according to the China Manned Space Agency.
The agency said in a brief news release on Tuesday morning that the craft was transported to Wenchang by ship and will be assembled and tested at the launch center.
Preparations for the launch mission scheduled for October are underway at the center.
Mengtian is some 17 meters long, has a diameter of 4 meters and weighs more than 20 metric tons, according to its designers at the China Academy of Space Technology.
Scientific equipment onboard will be used for microgravity studies and to carry out experiments in fluid physics, materials science, combustion science and fundamental physics.
Wentian, Tiangong station’s first lab module, was launched on July 24 on a Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket from the Wenchang center.
The 23-ton vehicle is the largest and heaviest China has deployed in orbit and consists of three main sections — a crew working compartment, an airlock cabin and an unpressurized service module.
Tiangong is currently composed of four modules; the Tianhe core module, the Wentian lab, the Tianzhou 4 cargo ship and the Shenzhou XIV spacecraft. It is manned by three astronauts who arrived in early June.
Once Mengtian is connected to Tiangong, the station will be T-shaped and astronauts will have as much as 110 cubic meters of usable space.
The Tianzhou 5 cargo craft and the Shenzhou XV crew are scheduled to arrive at the massive orbiting outpost toward the end of the year.