China on Monday launched space lab module Mengtian, taking the construction of the country’s space station Tiangong into the final stage.
The Mengtian module, flying to join the two-module combination already about 400 kilometres above Earth, is the last building block that allows Tiangong to form a T-shape structure, the planned layout at the space station’s completion, Xinhua news agency reported.
The new combination is projected to take shape after a succession of elaborately maneuvered tasks including the docking and the subsequent in-orbit transposition.
The Long March-5B Y4 carrier rocket, carrying Mengtian, blasted off from the Wenchang spacecraft launch site on the coast of the southern island province of Hainan at 3:37 p.m. (Beijing Time), according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA).
About eight minutes later, Mengtian separated from the rocket and entered its preset orbit.
The CMSA declared the launch a complete success.
This is the 25th flight mission since the country’s manned space programme was approved and initiated in 1992.
The building of Tiangong into a national space laboratory with three modules marks a milestone in China’s three-decade effort to advance its manned space programme.
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