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CSS Wentian

NSSDCA/COSPAR ID: 2022-085A

Description

The Wentian module, measuring about 58.7 feet (17.9 meters) long, is fitted with mounting platforms to host science instruments and unpressurized experiments in the vacuum of space.

There are accommodations for life science and biological research racks inside the module’s pressurized volume, and the new module will add an airlock to support spacewalks outside the Tiangong space station.

The Wentian module, with a launch weight near 50,000 pounds (23 metric tons), will dock with the Tianhe core module on China’s Tiangong station in low Earth orbit later Sunday. Chinese astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang, and Cai Xuzhe living on the Tiangong complex will monitor Wentian’s arrival, then become the first crew members to float into the station’s new module.

The massive Wentian module will unfurl solar panels to a span of about 180 feet (55 meters) tip-to-tip to produce its own electricity.

The arrival of the Wentian science lab will add the second of three large pressurized modules needed to complete the initial construction of the Tiangong station. The Tianhe core module launched on a Long March 5B rocket in April 2021, and Chinese ground teams are preparing the Mengtian module for launch on a Long March 5B rocket in October.

The Wentian module carries a small robotic arm designed for more precise movements than the larger arm positioned outside the Tianhe core module. Wentian’s arm will primarily be used to transfer experiments and other hardware outside the station.

Wentian’s experiments will support research into genetics, aging, organs, tissues, and cells. The variable gravity experiment rack can generate accelerations between a hundredth the pull of Earth’s gravity up to 2g, supporting comparative studies under different gravity conditions, according to the China Manned Space Agency.

Alternate Names

  • 53239
  • CSSWentian

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 2022-07-24
Launch Vehicle: Long March 5B
Launch Site: Wenchang, Peoples Republic of China

Funding Agency

  • China National Space Administration (Peoples Republic of China)

Discipline

  • Other

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office

 
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