China Launches Last Part of Its Own Space Station
China is almost done building its own space station. The third and final major component was launched Monday and should arrive at its destination later in the day.
China has been building Tiangong, or the Heavenly Palace, for a few years now. The first part went into space last year. It’s called Tianhe, or Heavenly Harmony. Last July, the Wentian (Quest for Heaven) section followed. The part launched on Monday is called Mengtian (Dreaming of Heaven).
Together they revolve around the earth at an altitude of about 400 kilometres. That’s about the same height as the much larger International Space Station (ISS).
In Mengtian, among other things, there is an atomic clock. Although, according to China, the clock is very accurate, it would not be a second behind in a billion years.
China is particularly ambitious. The country first flew someone to space in 2003. It was the third country to succeed, after the Soviet Union/Russia and the United States. The country successfully put an unmanned cart on Mars last year. In 2019, China was the first to land on the moon’s far side. Other countries prefer to do such projects together, but China prefers to work independently.
By the end of next year, China plans to launch its space telescope, Xuntian, into orbit. It must be built in such a way that it can occasionally be docked to the Tiangong space station so that spacemen can do maintenance.