Beijing, Nov 3 (EFE).- A Chinese lab module on Thursday completed its transposition completing the construction of the country’s crewed orbital space station, the China Manned Space Agency reported.
The Mengtian’s in-orbit transposition took place at 01:32 GMT completing the formation of the vast space station’s T-shaped arrangement in a key step toward the completion of the infrastructure, the space agency was quoted as saying by China’s Xinhua news outlet.
The entire operation lasted 66 hours after the Long March-5B Y4 rocket, which was transporting the lab module, blasted off on Monday at 07:37 GMT from the Wenchang space launch site in the southern province of Hainan.
The Mengtian has now joined the Tianhe central module and the Wentian, another laboratory both of which were already on the Tiangong space station.
The new module, which is 17.8 meters long and has a diameter of 4.2 meters, weighed some 23.3 tons just before firing off into space.
The Mengtian will provide an area for astronauts to work and for sports activities. The other two modules have bedrooms and bathrooms for the scientists aboard the space station.
The Tiangong space station, which roughly translates as Palace in the Sky, will weigh around 70 tons and is expected to operate for some 15 years orbiting at around 400 kilometers above the Earth’s surface.
Tiangong could become the world’s only space station by 2024 if operations cease on the International Space Station — a United States-led initiative from which China is barred given the military links its space program has.
In recent years, China’s space program has achieved remarkable progress such as the landing of Chang’e 4 probe on the dark side of the Moon — a first for mankind — and reaching Mars for the first time and becoming the third country to land on the red planet EFE