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Companion satellite to take pictures of Tiangong-2


09-15-2016 21:51 BJT

Full coverage: China Tiangong-2 Space Lab Launch

Scheduled to go into space some time over the next six days, the Tiangong-two -- or "Heavenly Palace-two" space laboratory -- will also include a companion satellite, tasked with taking photos of the new station in orbit.

China's second space lab will have its own personal "photographer"...

Riding piggyback on Tiangong-2 will be Banxing-2, a micro-satellite developed by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology.

Tiangong-2's companion will be tasked with taking photographs of it, including its docking with the manned spacecraft Shenzhou 11 in October.

"The Tiangong space lab will receive the docking manned spacecraft Shenzhou 11. Some of us say it's like a couple kissing at a wedding. We have to have a photographer for that precious moment, right? So one of the main tasks for the companion satellite is to photograph the process of the docking," said Chen Hongyu, researcher of Micro-satellite Innovation Institute, CAS.

The tiny box-shaped satellite is outfitted with three solar panels for power generation; a precise altitude determination and control system; and an ammonia-based propulsion system for proximity-flying with Tiangong-2. 

It also carries a series of visible light cameras including a 25 mega-pixel camera and wide-angle imagers. Chen said it's ready to go.

"We have loaded this companion satellite onto the spacecraft. It's fully checked, and in perfect condition. This time we hope to utilize the companion satellite technology as a basis for future advancements," Chen said.

Its predecessor, the Banxing-1, accomplished the same mission for Shenzhou 7 in September 2008.

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