Beijing, Apr 29 (EFE).- China successfully completed Thursday the launch of a key module for its space station, scheduled for completion by the end of 2022, state news agency Xinhua reported Tuesday.
A Long March 5B Y2 rocket was commissioned to put the first module of the station into orbit after 11.00 local time (03.00 GMT) from the Wenchang base, on the southern Chinese island of Hainan.
The Chinese space program is planning eleven such launches between 2021 and 2022 to complete construction before the start of 2023.
Of those 11 missions, four will be manned and another four will be cargo, state newspaper Global Times said. Beijing is scheduled to launch a cargo ship next month.
In June, a manned spacecraft is scheduled to launch that will put three astronauts into orbit for three months and serve to test the life support and maintenance systems.
The module sent Thursday (named Tianhe: “Heavenly Harmony” in Mandarin) will act as the control center of the space station (Tiangong: “Heavenly Palace.”)
The Tianhe module measures 16.6 meters, has a maximum diameter of 4.2 meters and weighs 22.5 tons.
According to Xinhua, the space station will orbit Earth at an altitude of between 340 and 450 kilometers, and is designed to last about 10 years, although experts cited by the agency are confident that with proper maintenance it can last more than 15 years.
The Tiangong will be in the shape of a “T,” and the Tianhe will be located in the center, with laboratory modules on each side.
“We are going to learn how to assemble, operate and maintain a large spacecraft in orbit,” said Bai Linhou, one of those responsible for the design of the device, with the aim of providing “a space laboratory that can be used for long stays for astronauts. as well as great experiments.”
The space station is just part of China’s space program, which next month plans to reach Mars with the Tianwen-1 probe. EFE