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China’s second space lab Tiangong-2 reaches launch center

Updated: Jul 10,2016 3:04 PM     Xinhua

JIUQUAN — China’s second orbiting space lab Tiangong-2, which may enable two astronauts to live in space for up to 30 days, has been delivered to Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

The lab was sent from Beijing on July 7 by railway and reached the launch center on July 9, marking the start of the Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft missions, said a statement issued by China’s manned space engineering office.

Assembly and tests will begin at the center ahead of the lab’s launch scheduled for mid-September, the statement said.

According to the statement, Tiangong-2 will be capable of receiving manned and cargo spaceships, and will be a testing place for systems and processes for mid-term space stays and refueling in space.

It will also be involved in experiments on aerospace medicine, space sciences, on-orbit maintenance and space station technologies.

China’s first space lab Tiangong-1, which was launched in September 2011 with a designed life of two years, ended its data service earlier this year. It had docked with Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spacecraft and undertook a series of experiments.

The manned space engineering office said in March this year that the orbit of Tiangong-1 would descend gradually in several months until the orbiter eventually burn up in the atmosphere.

With two capsules for conducting experiments and holding resources, Tiangong-2 features major improvements from its predecessor, including an improved propel sub-system.

The new space lab will also carry three experiments designed by the winners of a Hong Kong middle school design contest, the statement said.

Carrier rockets to launch Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11 will be transferred to Jiuquan next month.

Shenzhou-11, which will carry two astronauts to dock with Tiangong-2 in space, has passed initial tests, and its crew members are undergoing intensive training, the statement said.

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