|Crew||2 (from Shenzhou 11)|
19 October – 17 November 2016
|Launch||15 September 2016,|
|Carrier rocket||Long March 2F/G|
|Launch pad||Jiuquan, LA-4 / SLS-1|
|Reentry||19 July 2019|
|Mass||8,600 kg (19,000 lb)|
|Length||10.4 m (34 ft)|
|Diameter||3.35 m (11.0 ft)|
|Pressurised volume||14 m3 (490 cu ft) |
|Periapsis altitude||369.65 km (229.69 mi)|
|Apoapsis altitude||378.4 km (235.1 mi)|
|Orbital speed||7.68 km/s (4.77 mi/s)|
|Orbital period||92.0 minutes|
|Days occupied||26 days 11.3 hours|
|Statistics as of 22 September 2016|
|Literal meaning||Celestial Palace-2 or Heavenly Palace-2|
|Literal meaning||Space Laboratory|
Tiangong-2 (Chinese: 天宫二号; pinyin: Tiāngōng èrhào; lit. 'Celestial Palace 2') was a Chinese space laboratory and part of the Project 921-2 space station program. Tiangong-2 was launched on 15 September 2016. It was deorbited as planned on 19 July 2019.
Tiangong-2 was neither designed nor planned to be a permanent orbital station; rather, it was intended as a testbed for key technologies used in the Tiangong station (Chinese large modular space station) of which the first module launched on 29 April 2021 and the remaining modules of which are planned for launch in 2022.
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 (CNSA) 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. An uncrewed cargo spacecraft will dock with the station, allowing for resupply.
In September 2014, its launch was postponed 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, were Commander Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong who formed the inaugural crew for the space laboratory. It was China's first crewed mission for more than three years.
During the 30 days the two astronauts were aboard Tiangong-2, they conducted a number of scientific and technical experiments on the physiological effects of weightlessness, tests on human-machine collaboration on in-orbit maintenance technology and released an accompanying satellite successfully. Accompanying photography and near-distance fly-by observation were also carried out. They collected abundant data and made some achievements in programs of gamma-ray burst polarimeter, space cold atomic clock and preparation of new materials.
Shenzhou 11 separated from the orbiting Tiangong-2 space laboratory on 17 November 2016, reentry module landed successfully at the expected site in central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at about 13:59 Beijing Time.
On 22 April 2017, the cargo vessel Tianzhou-1 successfully docked with Tiangong-2 marking the first successful docking and refuelling with the orbiting space laboratory. It subsequently performed a second docking and refueling on 15 June 2017. On 12 September 2017, Tianzhou-1 performed the third and final docking and refuelling with Tiangong-2, with what is termed a fast docking which took 6.5 hours, rather than 2 days, to complete.
In July 2019, the China Manned Space Engineering Office announced that it was planning to deorbit Tiangong-2 in the near future, but no specific date was given. The station subsequently made a controlled reentry on 19 July 2019 and burned up over the South Pacific Ocean.
The dimensions of Tiangong-2 were:
- Crew size: 2, with 30 days of life support resources. The crew (from Shenzhou 11, October 2016) consists of two astronauts.
- Length: 10.4 m (34 ft).
- Maximum diameter: 4.2 m (14 ft).
- Mass: 8,600 kg (19,000 lb).
- Chinese space program
- Chinese space station – a successive multi-module orbital station
- Shenzhou program
- International Space Station
- List of space stations
- Salyut programme – a similar Soviet space station
- Branigan, Tania; Sample, Ian (26 April 2011). "China unveils rival to International Space Station". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 27 April 2011.
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".
- huaxia, ed. (16 September 2016). "Tiangong-2 takes China one step closer to space station". Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- "Tiangong-2 space lab may exceed 5 years service life: expert". Xinhua News Agency. 16 September 2016. Retrieved 16 September 2016.
- Hunt, Katie; Bloom, Deborah (15 September 2016). "China launches Tiangong-2 space lab". CNN News. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- "Space-Track.Org API Access". space-track.org. 22 September 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
- de Selding, Peter B. (20 June 2016). "China prepares assembly of its space station, invites collaboration through U.N." SpaceNews.
- "China set to carry out controlled deorbiting of Tiangong-2 space lab". 12 July 2019.
- "China launches first module of new space station". BBC News. 29 April 2021. Retrieved 4 June 2021.
- China to begin construction of manned space station in 2019 Reuters 28 April 2017
- "China to launch Tiangong-2 and cargo spacecraft in 2015". GB Times. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- "Tiangong-1 launch betrays China's earthly ambitions" BBC News 29 September 2011 Retrieved 21 November 2011
- David, Leonard (11 March 2011). "China Details Ambitious Space Station Goals". SPACE.com. Retrieved 9 March 2011.
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.
- "China manned spaceflight program" The Space Review 15 October 2009 Retrieved 21 November 2011
- Morris Jones (11 September 2014). "China's Space Station is Still on Track". SpaceDaily.
- "China to launch second space lab in 2016: official". SpaceDaily. AFP. 10 September 2014.
- "China successfully launches Tiangong-2 space lab". CCTV News. 15 September 2016.
- "China's Shenzhou-11 successfully docks with Tiangong-2 spacelab". CCTV America. 18 October 2016. Retrieved 19 October 2016.
- Clark, Stuart (20 October 2016). "Two crewed space stations now orbiting Earth". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 October 2016.
- "SCIO briefing on China's Tiangong 2 and Shenzhou 11 manned space mission". China.org.cn. 19 November 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
- "Tiangong-2: China's first cargo spacecraft docks with orbiting space lab". The Guardian. 22 April 2017. Retrieved 22 April 2017.
- "China's Tianzhou-1 cargo craft and Tiangong-2 space laboratory perform final orbital docking". GB Times. 12 September 2017. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
- Andrew Jones (20 June 2018). "China appears to be preparing to deorbit its Tiangong 2 space lab". SpaceNews.
- Michelle Starr (25 June 2018). "China's Space Station Got Weirdly Close to Earth For a Few Days and the Government Isn't Talking". Science Alert.
- Jones, Andrew (12 July 2019). "China set to carry out controlled deorbiting of Tiangong-2 space lab". SpaceNews. Retrieved 17 July 2019.
- Liptak, Andrew (20 July 2019). "China has deorbited its experimental space station". The Verge. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
- Media related to Tiangong-2 at Wikimedia Commons