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Commander-in-chief of China’s manned space program Chang Wanquan announced Thursday night that the launch of Tiangong-1 space lab module is successful.
China’s first space lab module Tiangong-1 blasted off at 9:16 pm Beijing Time (1316GMT) Thursday from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China’s Gansu province.
Commander-in-chief of China’s manned space program Chang Wanquan announced Thursdaynight that the launch of Tiangong-1 space lab module is successful.
The unmanned module, carried by Long March II-F T1 rocket, will test space docking with aspacecraft later this year, paving the way for China to become the third country in the world tooperate a permanent space station around 2020.
Chinese President Hu Jintao and other top leaders watched the launch from the BeijingAerospace Flight Control Center, witnessing the latest endeavor of China’s manned spaceprogram since 1992.
The Tiangong-1 will orbit the Earth for about one month to await Shenzhou-8 unmannedspacecraft. Once the two vehicles successfully rendezvous, they will conduct the first spacedocking at a height of 340 kilometers above Earth surface.
After two docking tests, Tiangong-1 will await Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 in the next twoyears, according to a plan of China’s manned space program.
The 8.5-tonne Tiangong-1, with a length of 10.4 meters and maximum diameter of 3.35 meters,provides a room of 15 cubic meters for two to three astronauts to live and work.
Zhang Shancong, deputy chief designer of the Tiangong-1, told Xinhua that the module carriesspecial cameras which will take hyperspectral images of China’s vast farmlands to detect heavymetal pollution and pesticide residue as well as plant disease.
Moreover, scientists on the ground will also conduct experiments on photonic crystal, a newmaterial expected to revolutionize information technology, in the low-gravity environment insidethe Tiangong-1 as these experiements would be extremely difficult to conduct on Earth’ssurface.