Highlights –

  • China launches ‘Tianhe’; module of 1st permanent space station.
  • The main module will host astronauts’ for a long term.
  • The module blasted into space atop a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center.
  • The launch of the module begins the first of 11 missions necessary to complete.

On Thursday, China successfully launched the main module of its first permanent space station that will host astronauts’ long term.

According to reports, the module named ‘Tianhe’, or “Heavenly Harmony,” blasted into space atop a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center on the southern island province of Hainan.

The launch marks a major advance for the country’s space exploration; it now begins the first of 11 missions’ necessary to complete, supply and crew the station by the end of next year.

It has been reported that Tianhe will have a docking port and will also be able to connect with a powerful Chinese space satellite. Theoretically, it could be expanded to as many as six modules. The station is designed to operate for at least 10 years.

According to CNSA, the core module is the section of the station where astronauts will live for up to six months at a time. Another 10 launches will send up two more modules where crews will conduct experiments, four cargo supply shipments and four missions with crews.

China further plans another mission in 2024 to bring back lunar samples and has said it wants to land people on the moon and possibly build a scientific base there.

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