The spacecraft Tiangong “heavenly palace“, which will be launched by a Chinese rocket between 27 and 30 September shows that China looks forward to continuing its ambitious space exploration program.
Before the end of the month, China will launch into space a first crucial module for its ambitious space station complex program. Between 27 and 30 September, a Long March 2F rocket will send the laboratory Tiangong 1, the “heavenly palace” to orbit from the Jiuquan launch base in the Gobi Desert.
The launch was delayed for at least one month after the explosion of a Long March 2C rocket when launching an “experimental” satellite from the same base of Jiuquan. Despite this delay, the Chinese slowly continue the ambitious program, with focus on the exploration of the Moon.
The Tiangong 1 module, which weighs only 8.5 tonnes at launch, is not strictly speaking a real space station. But it is a laboratory that will allow China to master the crucial technique of rendezvous and docking capabilities in orbit, a type of operation that so far only the United States, Russia and Europe can manage. Before the end of the year, a spacecraft Shenzhou, traveling empty, will go to dock with “heavenly palace”. “Without the rendezvous and docking in orbit, it is impossible to conduct an advanced space program,” said the Australian space analyst Morris Jones.