In news: China’s third and final module called Mengtian docked with its permanent space station called Tiangong to further a more than decade-long effort to maintain a constant crewed presence in orbit, as its competition with the U.S. grows increasingly fierce.
- 3 astronauts arrived for a six-month stay on board, during which they will complete the station’s assembly, conduct space walks and carry out additional experiments.
- Mengtian is the third and final module which was blasted into space from the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center on the southern island province of Hainan.
- Mengtian, or “Celestial Dream,” joins Wentian as the second laboratory module for the station, collectively known as Tiangong, or “Celestial Palace.” Both are connected to the Tianhe core module where the crew lives and works.
- Like its predecessors, Mengtian was launched aboard a Long March-5B carrier rocket, a member of China’s most powerful family of launch vehicles.
- Mengtian weighs in at about 23 tons, is 17.9 meters (58.7 feet) long and has a diameter of 4.2 meters (13.8 feet). It will provide space for science experiments in zero gravity, an airlock for exposure to the vacuum of space, and a small robotic arm to support extravehicular payloads.
- The already orbiting 23-ton Wentian, or “quest for the heavens” laboratory is designed for science and biology experiments and is heavier than any other single-module spacecraft currently in space.
- Following Mengtian’s arrival, an additional uncrewed Tianzhou cargo craft is due to dock with the station.
- It is currently populated by a crew of two male and one female astronauts.
- In all, the station will have about 110 cubic meters (3,880 cubic feet) of pressurized interior space, including the 32 cubic meters (1,130 cubic feet).
- China’s crewed space program is officially three decades old this year, with the Mengtian launch being its 25th mission. But it truly got underway in 2003, when China became only the third country after the U.S. and Russia to put a human into space using its own resources.
- The permanent Chinese station will weigh about 66 tons — a fraction of the size of the International Space Station, which launched its first module in 1998 and weighs around 465 tons.
- With a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, Tiangong could one day find itself the only space station still running, if the International Space Station adheres to its 30-year operating plan.
- Prior to launching the Tianhe module, China’s Manned Space Program launched a pair of single-module stations that it crewed briefly as test platforms.
- Next year, China plans to launch the Xuntian space telescope, which, while not a part of Tiangong, will orbit in sequence with the station and can dock occasionally with it for maintenance.
- China has also chalked up successes with uncrewed missions, and its lunar exploration program generated media buzz last year when its Yutu 2 rover sent back pictures of a rock. The rover is the first to be placed on the far side of the moon.
- China’s Chang’e 5 probe returned lunar rocks to Earth for the first time since the 1970s in December 2000 and another Chinese rover is searching for evidence of life on Mars.
- China is collaborating with the European Space Agency on experiments aboard Mengtian, and is cooperating with France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Pakistan and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) on a range of projects from aerospace medicine to microgravity physics.
- China is also reportedly developing a highly secret space plane.
Source: The Hindu
Previous Year Question
Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2016)
The Mangalyaan launched by ISRO
- is also called the Mars Orbiter Mission
- made India the second country to have a spacecraft orbit the Mars after USA
- made India the only country to be successful in making its spacecraft orbit the Mars in its very first attempt
Which of the statement(s) given above is/are correct?
- 1 only
- 2 and 3 only
- 1 and 3 only
- 1, 2 and 3