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China to launch Tiangong-2 space lab on Sept. 15

Reporter: Guan yang 丨 CCTV.com

09-14-2016 21:16 BJT

Full coverage: China Tiangong-2 Space Lab Launch

A senior official from China's Manned Space Program has confirmed that the launch of Tiangong-2, the country's second space lab, will take place at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gobi Desert at exactly 10:04 p.m. Beijing time on Thursday September 15th.

This year, China's space program is growing by leaps and bounds. The next-generation Long March 7 rocket made its debut 3 months ago. China also launched the world's first quantum satellite. And now, its second space laboratory is ready for lift-off.

"Now, I announce the time of the launch mission for Tiangong-2 space laboratory: 22:04, 15th of September, Beijing Time," said Wu Ping, deputy director of China's Manned Space Engineering Office.

The new station has a larger payload capacity. This allows for better living quarters for its crew of two astronauts, who will stay in orbit for 30 days without getting fresh supplies. This is the first mission of its kind in China's manned space program.

"Once the new space lab starts functioning in the orbit, it will prepare its position in order to be docked with Shenzhou-11 spacecraft at an altitude of 393km next month," Wu said.

According to the plan, the space lab will dock with the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft in orbit at an altitude of 393 kilometers next month. This is 50 kilometers higher than previous docking missions. Such an orbit is ideal for what is planned to be a permanently-inhabited space station.

"We've conducted a comprehensive full-system drill lately, such task is prerequisite to see how well can all units coordinate with each other under the simulated launch mode," said Li Guomin, deputy chief designer of Tracking and Communication System, Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

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