Tiangong-2 takes China one step closer to space station

(From Xinhua)

China’s Tiangong-2 space lab blasted off on Thursday, marking another milestone in its increasingly ambitious space program, which envisions a mission to Mars by the end of this decade and its own space station by around 2020.

China sends its second space laboratory, the Tiangong II, into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China's Gobi desert, September 15

China’s second space laboratory, the Tiangong II, lifts off into orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China’s Gobi desert

In a cloud of smoke underneath a mid-autumn full moon, Tiangong-2 roared into the air at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China’s Gobi desert, on the back of a Long March-2F T2 rocket at 10:04 p.m. Beijing Time.

The Long March-2F T2 is a two-stage launch vehicle that uses four strap-on boosters during its first stage.

About 20 minutes later, the mission was declared a success.

Tiangong-2 separated from the rocket and entered the preset orbit 575 seconds after blast-off, a statement from the mission control read.

While in space, the 8.6-tonne Tiangong-2 will maneuver itself into an orbit about 380 kilometers above Earth for initial in-orbit tests. It will then transfer to a slightly higher orbit of about 393 kilometers above Earth’s surface. Read More



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