Jiuquan welcomes Tiangong-2 !

Update for latest news and technical data on Tiangong-2 You can find here.

Chinese space station, Tiangong-2 was already delivered to Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center for further assembling and testing.  Launch of the station is planned on September 2016. Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, which will bring Chinese astronauts to Tiangong-2, will be delivered to Jiuquan soon.

According to Xinhua news agency, space station was delivered yesterday by train from Beijing, where station was assembled and tested in CAST facility. Next weeks will pass on final assembling (station was delivered in parts), testing and integrating Tiangong-2 with Long March 2F/G rocket. Launch is planned at the moment for mid-September 2016.  Tiangong-2 will be lifted to LEO orbit with altitude of 393 km. Tiangong-2 will stay on orbit 50 km higher than its predecessor, Tiangong-1, around 15 km lower then International Space Station at the moment.

Station will provide conditions for performing scientific experiments for two crew members, who will fly to Tiangong-2 inside Shenzhou-11 spacecraft on 4th quarter of 2016. Shenzhou-11 will be launched on atop of Long March 2F which will be delivered to Jiuquan along with Long March 2F/G next month.

Tiangong-2 is significantly larger than its predecessor. It is long for 14.4 m with diameter of 4.2 m and mass at 20000 kg. Module will provide life support for twenty days for up to three crew members. Significant difference between Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 is planned utilization of robotic cargo spacecraft Tianzhou, which will be based on construction of Tiangong-1. It will weigh 13000 kg and will be able to deliver to Tiangong-2 6000 kg of payload. Along to Chinese sources, Tiangong-2 will still offer single docking port what would make using robotic cargo spacecraft quite complicated. After two astronauts will reach Tiangong inside Shenzhou-11 and dock it to Tiangong-2, Tianzhou will be launched with supplies and fuel. It will perform rendezvous with Tiangong, but docking to station would require undocking Shenzhou-11. After swapping spacecrafts, Shenzhou-11 will remain close to Tiangong-2 and wait until cargo spacecraft will be unloaded and undocked. Next it will perform another docking. It is worth to remind that during this period, astronauts will not be able to leave Tiangong-2 in case of any emergency. Tianzhou mission is planned for 2017.