A Tour of China’s Tiangong Space Station

a tour of chinas tiangong space station






a tour of chinas tiangong space station

Experiment

module

Shenzhou

crew ship

Tiangong

space station

Tianzhou

cargo ship

Tianhe

core module

Experiment

module

a tour of chinas tiangong space station 1

Experiment

module

Shenzhou

crew ship

Tiangong

space station

Tianzhou

cargo ship

Tianhe

core module

Experiment

module

a tour of chinas tiangong space station 2

Experiment

module

Tiangong

space station

Shenzhou

crew ship

Tianzhou

cargo ship

Tianhe

core module

Experiment

module

a tour of chinas tiangong space station 3

Experiment module

Experiment module


A new outpost for astronauts will soon be finished in orbit: China’s new Tiangong space station, or Heavenly Palace. Tiangong will be able to support three astronauts, or up to six people during crew rotations.

The unfinished station has already hosted three astronauts, who spent 90 days living aboard and continuing the construction process. The next crew is expected to launch in October.

Tiangong will be built in several stages over the next year. Here’s a look at the main components that will make up the station.

Tianhe






a tour of chinas tiangong space station 4

Exit hatch

Robotic

arm

Docking hub

a tour of chinas tiangong space station 5

Exit

hatch

Robotic

arm

Docking

hub

a tour of chinas tiangong space station 6

Exit

hatch

Robotic

arm

Docking

hub


The Tianhe control center was the first section to launch. A central docking hub will connect the module to other sections of the space station, or to visiting spacecraft. Tianhe also has a hatch for astronauts to enter and exit the station.

Experiment Modules


Note: Size of experiment modules are approximate.

Wentian and Mengtian are two experiment modules that will connect to the Tianhe core module. Astronauts will conduct research in biotechnology, microgravity and space materials science.

Other spacecraft will visit the station regularly to deliver food, supplies and crew members. Tianzhou and Shenzhou are two such transit methods between Earth and the space station.

Tianzhou





a tour of chinas tiangong space station 7

Propulsion

section

Cargo

compartment

a tour of chinas tiangong space station 8

Cargo

compartment

Propulsion section

a tour of chinas tiangong space station 9

Cargo

compartment

Propulsion section


The Tianzhou spacecraft are a series of automated ships that supply the space station with cargo and propellant. The Tianzhou-1 can carry 6 tons — the approximate weight of an adult elephant. Its interior is divided into a cargo compartment and a propulsion section.

Shenzhou





a tour of chinas tiangong space station 10

Orbital

module

Service

section

Re-entry

module

a tour of chinas tiangong space station 11

Orbital

module

Re-entry

module

Service

section

a tour of chinas tiangong space station 12

Orbital

module

Service

section

Re-entry module


The piloted Shenzhou spacecraft carry astronauts and equipment to the space station. Each Shenzhou craft consists of an orbital module, a re-entry module and a service section. Earlier this summer, Shenzhou-12 carried astronauts Tang Hongbo, Nie Haisheng and Liu Boming to the partially constructed station.

According to the China National Space Administration, assembly of the Tiangong Space Station is scheduled for completion around 2022. The finished station will be smaller than the current International Space Station, which typically hosts a crew of about six or seven astronauts.

NYT

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