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China confirms date for Tiangong-2 launch


09-15-2016 12:33 BJT

Full coverage: China Tiangong-2 Space Lab Launch

China will launch the Tiangong-2 space lab tonight from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the northwest.

Engineers are injecting propellant into the Long March rocket that will carry Tiangong-2 about 380 kilometers above Earth. The lab will transfer to a slightly higher orbit after initial tests.

A Shenzhou-11 manned spaceship will ferry two male astronauts to the lab in October. The two astronauts will stay in orbit for 30 days.

A resupply ship will also be sent into orbit to dock with Tiangong-2 next year. China's aim is to have a permanently-inhabited space station.

"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 393 km next month," said Wu Ping, Dir., Manned Space Engineering Office.

"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.

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