A display model of Tiangong-2 docked to the Shenzhou spacecraft.
|Crew||2 (from Shenzhou 11, October 2016)|
|Launch||15 September 2016, 22:04:09 (UTC+8)|
|Launch pad||Jiuquan LA-4/SLS-1|
|Mass||8.6 t (9.5 tons)|
|Length||10.4 m (34 ft)|
|Diameter||3.35 m (11.0 ft)|
|Perigee||369.65 km (229.69 mi)|
|Apogee||378.4 km (235.1 mi)|
|Orbital speed||7.68 km/s (4.77 mi/s)|
|Orbital period||92 minutes|
|Statistics as of 2016-09-22 00:00:00 UTC
|Literal meaning||Heavenly Palace-2 or Sky Palace-2|
|Literal meaning||Space Laboratory|
Tiangong-2 (Chinese: 天宫二号; pinyin: Tiāngōng èrhào; literally: "Heavenly Palace 2") is a Chinese space laboratory and part of the Project 921-2 space station program. Tiangong-2 was launched on 15 September 2016, 22:04:09 (UTC+8).
Tiangong-2 is neither designed nor planned to be a permanent orbital station; rather, it is intended as a testbed for key technologies that will be used in China's large modular space station, which is planned for launch in 2023.
The China Manned Space Engineering Office published a brief description of Tiangong-2 and its successor Tiangong-3 in 2008, indicating that at least two crewed spaceships would be launched to dock with Tiangong-2.
Tiangong-2 was originally expected to be launched by the China National Space Agency by 2015 to replace the prototype module Tiangong-1, which was launched in September 2011. In March 2011, Chinese officials stated that Tiangong-2 was scheduled to be launched by 2015, following the deorbit of Tiangong-1. An uncrewed cargo spacecraft will dock with the station, allowing for resupply.
In September 2014, its launch was pushed to September 2016. Plans for visits in October 2016 by the crewed mission Shenzhou 11 and the uncrewed resupply craft Tianzhou were made public. The station was successfully launched from Jiuquan aboard a Long March 2F rocket on 15 September 2016. Shenzhou 11 successfully docked with Tiangong-2 on 19 October 2016.
Aboard the Shenzhou 11, launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert, where Commander Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong who formed the inaugural crew for the space laboratory. It was China's first manned mission for more than three years.
The dimensions of Tiangong-2 are:
- Crew size: 2, with 30 days of life support resources. The crew (from Shenzhou 11, October 2016) consists of two astronauts.
- Length: 10.4 metres (34 ft).
- Maximum diameter: 4.2 metres (14 ft).
- Mass: 8,600 kilograms (19,000 lb).
- Chinese space program
- Tiangong 3
- International Space Station
- Salyut programme – a Soviet space station with a similar monolithic design
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China often chooses poetic names for its space projects, such as Chang'e – after the moon goddess – for its lunar probes; its rocket series, however, is named Long March, in tribute to communist history. The space station project is currently referred to as Tiangong, or "heavenly palace".
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China is ready to carry out a multiphase construction program that leads to the large space station around 2020. As a prelude to building that facility, China is set to loft the Tiangong-1 module this year as a platform to help master key rendezvous and docking technologies.
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