China launches space station core module Tianhe
WENCHANG, Hainan, April 29 (Xinhua) -- China on Thursday sent into space the core module of its space station, kicking off a series of key launch missions that aim to complete the construction of the station by the end of next year.
The Long March-5B Y2 rocket, carrying the Tianhe module, blasted off from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of the southern island province of Hainan at 11:23 a.m. (Beijing Time).
About 494 seconds later, Tianhe separated from the rocket and entered the planned orbit. At 12:36 p.m., its solar panels unfolded and started to work properly.
The successful launch of the core module marks that China's space station construction has entered the full implementation stage, which lays a solid foundation for the follow-up tasks, said Chinese President Xi Jinping in a congratulatory message.
On behalf of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, the State Council and the Central Military Commission (CMC), Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the CMC, extended warm congratulations and sincere greetings to all members who have participated in the mission in the message.
Tianhe will act as the management and control hub of the space station Tiangong, meaning Heavenly Palace, with a node that could dock with up to three spacecraft at a time for short stays, or two for long, said Bai Linhou, deputy chief designer of the space station at the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.
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