Chinese astronauts set up a new lab on the space station


BEIJING: Astronauts entered China’s space station’s new lab module for the first time on Monday, a major step toward completing the orbital outpost by the end of the year.
The station is one of the crown jewels of Beijing’s ambitious space program, which has landed robotic rovers on Mars and Earth. the moonAnd made China only the third nation to put humans into orbit.
Once completed, Tiangong — or “heavenly palace” — will be continuously crewed by rotating teams of three astronauts, who will conduct scientific experiments and help test new technologies.
Wentian, the second of Tiangong’s three main sections, docked with the station’s core module Tianhe on Monday after successfully launching from southern China a day earlier, state media reported.
A few hours after docking, the three astronauts – who had been living in the core module since June – opened the hatch and entered. WentianThe state broadcaster showed CCTV footage.
The crew, dressed in blue jumpsuits, were seen floating around the brightly lit module before facing the camera and saluting.
According to official news agency Xinhua, Wentian will focus on life science and biotechnology research, including cell research and growth experiments on plants, fruit flies and zebrafish.
The module will have accommodation for three additional astronauts, with accommodation for up to six people during crew transitions, state media said.
The third and final module, titled Second Lab MengtianScheduled for launch in October.
Tiangong, once completed, is expected to remain in low orbit 400-450 kilometers (250-280 miles) above Earth for at least 10 years.
Next year, China is also planning to launch a space telescope with 350 times the field of view NASAof the Hubble Space Telescope.
The telescope will be placed in the same orbit as Tiangong, allowing the station to dock with it for refueling and servicing when needed.
China has poured billions of dollars into space flight and exploration as it seeks to build a program that reflects its stature as a global power.
The program has achieved rapid successes over the past two decades, including the launch of the first Chinese astronauts, the historic first controlled landing on the far side of the Moon, and the delivery of a rover to the surface of Mars.
And after several missions to test the technologies needed for a persistent crew outpost, it’s set to finish Tiangong this year.
The station is expected to weigh 90 tons when completed, around a quarter of the weight of the International Space Station — excluding China by the United States.
The ISS — a collaboration between the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan — is scheduled to retire after 2024, though NASA has said it could potentially remain operational beyond 2028.

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