China has launched its first key module of the space station that will host astronauts in space, a part of their "space dream".
China launched the main module for its first space station, a landmark in Beijing’s ambitious project. The Tianhe, or “Heavenly Harmony,” named core module, was fired into space along with the March 5B-rocket at the Wenchang Launch Center on Thursday in the southern island province of Hainan.
This marks a milestone in the progress of the country and its space exploration programs. This launch is the first of the 11 missions necessary to supply and crew the station. The station will tentatively be ready in 2022.
Many military leaders and top civilian personnel witnessed the launch live with the team. The space program is the source of immense national pride.
THE 11 MISSIONS
This was China’s first launch for the space station, and it’s due for another ten launches. It’s reported that the next launches will send two more modules carrying four more cargo supply shipments and four missions with a crew of 12.
As per China’s plans, the fully operational station would weigh 66 tons with additional features like a docking port and the ability to connect with Chinese space satellites.
From reports, we understand that the first module launched is the size of the American Skylab space station and the former Russian Mir.
It’s also clear that the Tianhe is just a portion size of an international space station that weighs about 450 tons. The station is formulated to operate for at least ten years.
LONG TERM PREP
China has launched two experimental modules in the past decade as experiments to prepare for the launch of this space station.
Earlier, they launched a single-module space station — Tiangong-1, which means “Heavenly Palace-1”. It burned up after lost contact, and the successor, Tiangong-2, was successfully taken out of orbit in 2018. While the Tiangong-2 crew stayed on board for 33 days, and it is still considered a setback.
The Chinese started to work on the station since the early 1990s but couldn’t maintain the necessary momentum. China was also barred from the ISS owing to its covert nature.
RACE TO SPACE
After years of successful commercial satellite and rocket launches, they sent their first astronaut into space in 2003. They were the third country to independently do that after the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Meanwhile, they have formed alliances with space experts from different countries like France, Sweden, Russia. But they never could reach out and connect with NASA because of the prerequisite permission from a reluctant Congress.
China also pushed ahead with their previous crewless missions like exploring the Moon and landing a rover at the it’s dark side. In December, their Change 5 probe had returned with lunar rocks to Earth. Their space project was also the first to return with collected lunar samples in more than 40 years. They are also expected to land a probe and a rover on the surface of Mars later.
China planned another mission in 2024 to bring back lunar samples and announced future Moon landings and building of a scientific base on the Moon. There is no public timeline regarding this at the moment. It’s also rumoured that a highly confidential space plane is under advancement too.
China also has a strange objective of collecting soil from an asteroid, which is also a pivotal focus of Japan’s space program.
HOW ROBUST IS CHINA’S MISSION ?
Nevertheless, the space programs and missions have been improving steadily through carefully constructed steps; by observing the drawbacks faced by the US and Russians. .
China is no doubt growing and building resources, alliances through which they might achieve a lot more in space.