Beijing: China invited scientists from Pakistan, Germany, France, Italy, Russia and EU to watch the launch of its next month’s manned space flight which would send two astronauts to join a space lab put into orbit.
Scientists were invited to watch the launch of Shenzhou 11 capsule from Inner Mongolia next month, Hong Kong. The capsule will be propelled by a Long March 2F rocket similar to the one which put the experimental space lab Tiangong-2 into orbit. The Tiangong-2 launch was telecast live on state TV.
China has also been helping Pakistan’s space program and it has launched Pakistan’s communication Satellite PAKSAT-1R in 2011. The two countries had also signed an agreement to launch a remote sensing satellite in 2018 to monitor the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Invitation to scientists from Germany, France, Russia and EU showed China’s confidence in its space program said a commentator on state-run CCTV. Two astronauts will spend 30 days in orbit on the lab, twice as long as the last crew on Tiangong 1 and conduct over 40 studies.
The experimental space lab was part of efforts by China to build its manned space station by 2022, which is the time when US-led International Space Station is expected to go out of service. Analysts say that the heavy rocket being used to lift large payload like the space lab also demonstrates China’s growing ability in missile and rocket technology.
The state-run Xinhua news agency reported that China’s space lab Tiangong-2 would serve for over five years and coexist with China’s first space station which is expected to crash to earth next year. Tiangong-2 has a designed life for two years and was originally built as a backup for Tiangong-1, which completed its mission in March, said Zhu Congpeng the chief designer of Tiangong-2.
Zhu said that, “But we expect Tiangong-2 to serve for more than five years given the introduction of an in-orbit propellant technique for the first time.” In April 2017, China’s first cargo spaceship Tianzhou-1 will also be sent into orbit to dock the space lab, providing it with fuel and other supplies.
Zhu added that, “If the fuel-supply experiment goes well, China will then become the second country after Russia to master the in-orbit propellant technique.”
In space the 8.6-tonne space lab will maneuver itself into orbit about 393 kms above the Earth’s surface. The space lab is higher than past manned space missions, which were conducted at 343 kms the Tiangong-2 would be more cost-effective and have a longer lifespan.
Tiangong-1, Tiangong-2’s look similar however the interior living quarters and life support system have been improved to allow astronauts to stay longer.