China’s Tianhe space station module has passed on-orbit tests and is ready to receive its first visitor, according to the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO).
Tianhe launched on a Long March 5B on April 28 at 11:23 p.m. EDT (0323 GMT on April 29)and has since carried out a range of tests to prove it is capable of hosting astronauts.
CMSEO said tests of functions needed for rendezvous and docking, life support and other platforms have been completed. A 33-feet-long (10 meters) robotic arm which will be used to help add new modules to the station has also been passed ready for work.
Images from China’s Tianhe space station core module showing the Earth, solar arrays, and the interior. Credit: CMSA pic.twitter.com/GKu3RgQLoxMay 18, 2021
China is now preparing to launch the first visitor to Tianhe, with the Tianzhou 2 cargo spacecraft now expected to launch from Wenchang, south China on Saturday (May 29), shortly after 8:30 a.m. EDT (1230 May 29 GMT; 8:30 p.m. May 29 local time).
The Tianzhou 2 spacecraft was first expected to launch on May 19 to send cargo and propellant to Tianhe. The launch has been delayed however due to “technical reasons,” CMSEO said in a statement.
Tianhe is the core module for a “T”-shaped space station that China aims to complete by the end of 2022. China has planned 10 more launches to complete the orbital outpost, starting with Tianzhou 2.
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