China launches space lab module Mengtian to complete construction of its space station Tiangong
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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