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China launches a 24-ton unit to build a space station

China launches a 24-ton unit to build a space station

China has taken another step toward the goal of building its own space station in Earth orbit. On the morning of Thursday (29), the country launched its first unit called Tianhe – something like heavenly harmony in Chinese. It will be the main base of the structure.

The initiative represents a major step for China in is yours Space Exploration Program. Version It happened around 11:23 a.m. (local time; 12:23 a.m. in Brazil), from the launch base WenchangOn the tropical island Hainan, No On the Act country.

The 24-ton unit was sent into space by the Long March-5B Y2 rocket, the largest and most powerful Chinese rocket.

This is the first of 11 missions that will be carried out at the end of 2022 to build, supply, and prepare a station for scientific experiments and host a crew of up to three people. When completed, it will be like a miniature version of the NASA International Space Station (ISS), weighing about 66 tons (the ISS weighs 420).

Watch how it was launched:

At least 12 astronauts – a term used to refer to Chinese astronauts – are already being trained to fly, go to space, and live on the station on six-month shifts. Seventeen international microgravity experiments have been selected for the first time.

The central unit launched into space is 16.7 meters long and 4.2 meters in diameter. This is where the life support machines and “rooms” are located.

See how it looks from the inside:

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Two research units, Wentian and Mengtian, will be dispatched in the next 18 months, along with four large loads of equipment and supplies and four manned missions to support robotic weapons in the construction phase.

When ready, the station will have a T-shape and must orbit our planet at an altitude of about 370 km, which is much lower than the International Space Station, which is 410 km away. It will have the ability to go up or down if needed.

As usual, the government and the National Space Agency (CNSA) have not disclosed key details of the project.

Chinese space program

For nearly 30 years, China has been preparing to launch its own space station. The United States has prevented the country from participating in missions to the International Space Station and from contacting NASA, for national political and security reasons, due to the powerful secret and military nature of the CNSA.

In the past decade, two experimental units have been launched and are in the pipeline. The first, Tiangong-1 (Heavenly Palace-1), from 2011, was abandoned four years later and burned down when it returned to Earth’s atmosphere uncontrollably in 2018. Its successor, Tiangong-2, was successful and was launched in the year 2018. 2016 and controlled orbit clouds in 2019.

The first Taikunuta, Yang Liwei, only went into space in 2003, on the Shenzhou V mission, which orbited Earth for 21 hours. The program has evolved at a rapid pace with few failures. The country has already launched several satellites and unmanned missions, especially for lunar exploration.

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the mission Chang’e-5 It landed a probe on the far side of the moon, collected samples and brought it to Earth – something that last happened in the 1970s, during the Apollo missions.

me and Tianwen -1 (Celestial Question-1), the first Chinese interplanetary mission, orbiting Mars since February. In May, the Zhurong rover is expected to launch onto the planet’s surface to search for evidence of life. If it succeeds, it will be the second country, after the United States, to achieve this feat.