Edition: English | 中文简体 | 中文繁体 Монгол
Homepage > Sci Tech Video

Sub-anchor: Tiangong-2: Technical upgrades and innovations


09-15-2016 03:30 BJT

Full coverage: China Tiangong-2 Space Lab Launch

Well for the latest on the Tiangong-2 mission and China's ongoing space program, we are joined now in the studio by my colleague, Wu Haojun.

Q1. So what is so special about the Tiangong-2 mission that sets it apart from China's previous space endeavours?

Well, not to dismiss work done previously but Tiangong-2 really is China's VERY FIRST space laboratory in a literal sense. Tiangong-2 of course builds on the work of the similarly designed space module Tiangong-1, which was sent into orbit five years ago. But scientists are quick to point out that Tiangong-2 is not simply a duplicate of Tiangong-1. For example, Tiangong-2 has upgraded living quarters and life support systems meaning astronauts can stay in orbit for longer periods.

And that's not all. The space lab is also equipped with robotic arms that can conduct maintenance work outside the lab - so in outer space - in place of the astronauts themselves. And in this digital age of smartphones and selfies. Tiangong-2 doesn't want to be left behind. The space lab will be accompanied by a small Banxing-2 satellite, which will capture images of the lab in orbit and monitor the space around it for potential hazards such as floating debris.

And last but not least, Tiangong-2 will be used primarily to conduct those all-important space science experiments and this time on a comparitively larger scale. These include a quantum communications experiment, in-orbit propellant resupply and a microwave radiometer for tracking ocean dynamics to name just a few.

Q2. The launch of Tiangong-2 starts a new chapter in China's space program...so what's next?

Well this is definitely just the beginning of a series of space endeavours already planned to take place in the near future. The launch of Tiangong 2 will be followed by a crewed spaceflight mission, Shenzhou 11, set to take place next month and that will be followed by an experimental cargo resupply mission, Tianzhou 1, in the first half of 2017. Now these recent plans are just the tip of the iceberg for China's long-term space ambitions. According to the country's Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, China is expected to have more than 200 spacecraft in orbit by 2020 and perform on average around 30 launches per year.

China's robotic or unmanned mission to Mars is due to begin around 2020. However, the ultimate goal is to assemble and operate a 60-ton space station by around 2022. As you can see everything has already been planned out.The key as with everything now is execution and for Chinese space scientists that means taking things one launch at a time. 

Follow us on

  • Please scan the QR Code to follow us on Instagram

  • Please scan the QR Code to follow us on Wechat