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 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 manned 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 lab on November 17, reentry module landed successfully at the expected site in central Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region at about 13:59 Beijing Time.
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
- Chinese space station – a planned multi-module orbital station
- Shenzhou program
- International Space Station
- Salyut programme – a similar Soviet space station
- Tiangong 3
- 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. (2016-09-16). "Tiangong-2 takes China one step closer to space station". Xinhua. Retrieved 2016-09-16.
- huaxia, ed. (2016-09-16). "Tiangong-2 space lab may exceed 5 years service life: expert". Xinhua. Retrieved 2016-09-16.
- Hunt, Katie; Bloom, Deborah (15 September 2016). "China launches Tiangong-2 space lab". CNN News. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
- "Space-Track.Org API Access". space-track.org. 2016-09-22. Archived from the original on 2016-09-22. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
- de Selding, Peter B. (20 June 2016). "China prepares assembly of its space station, invites collaboration through U.N.". Space News.
- "China to launch space station by 2023". BBC. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 1 October 2013.
- "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. 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" (PDF). The Space Review. 15 October 2009. Retrieved 21 November 2011.
- Morris Jones (11 September 2014). "China's Space Station is Still On Track". SpaceDaily.
- AFP (10 September 2014). "China to launch second space lab in 2016: official". SpaceDaily.
- "China successfully launches Tiangong-2 space lab". CCTV News. 15 September 2016.
- "China's Shenzhou-11 successfully docks with Tiangong-2 spacelab". CCTV America. Retrieved 2016-10-19.
- Clark, Stuart (2016-10-20). "Two crewed space stations now orbiting Earth". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
- "SCIO briefing on China's Tiangong 2 and Shenzhou 11 manned space mission". China.org.cn. 19 November 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2016.