The last module for China’s space station arrived at the launch site in Wenchang to undergo the final assembly, the China Manned Space Agency revealed on August 9, 2022.
The final module, called Mengtian, is expected to reach its final destination in October 2022 and will mark the completion of the long-awaited Chinese Space Station (CSS). After the completion, the new space station will have a T-shaped three-module structure, with the Tianhe core module, and two lab modules – Wentian and Mengtian.
This news comes just two weeks after China launched its second module, named Wentian, to its space station. Three crew members entered the new laboratory, several hours after Wentian docked with the front part of the Tianhe core module. Currently, Chinese astronauts are testing the Wentian and readying it for future science experiments.
The CSS is part of the country’s space program. Named Tiangong (‘Heavenly Palace’), the CSS will be a third of the size of the International Space Station (ISS), closer in dimension to Mir, the late Soviet space station, which orbited the Earth between 1986 and 2001.
China began laying the foundation for the CSS launch over a decade ago. In September 2011, the country launched a prototype space station called Tiangong-1 to continue improving its human spaceflight skills and test the technologies needed to assemble a large space station in low Earth orbit.
The Chinese Space Station is expected to be operational for approximately 10 years. However, experts have said that it could “last more than 15 years with appropriate maintenance and repairs”.