China has given the world its first look at the Tianhe module of the Chinese Space Station. During a 48-minute long documentary exploring innovative Chinese engineering projects published on YouTube, China Central Television (CCTV) examined the construction of the module.
The Tianhe module is believed to have been completed in 2017. However, the extreme secrecy that surrounds the entirety of China’s space programme meant that very few had been privy to the module’s design and functionality.
The documentary footage follows the construction of the core module at the Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) Center in Tianjin. The footage shows the control and living compartments as well as, the main docking hub. The 20-ton core module is by far the largest ever developed by the country. The development and construction of the module have been carried out by the by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Group (CASC).
The Chinese Space Station is the culmination of years of research and practical testing conducted during the country’s Tiangong space lab missions. Tianhe, which translates as ‘harmony of the heavens’ is the core module of the station. The station will also include a further two modules, both of which will be utilized for scientific research.
Once operational, the station will host 3 astronaut crew for three to six months. The station will remain operational for at least a decade. Considering the uncertainty of the future of the ISS past 2024, the Chinese Space Station could become the lone outpost for human beings outside the Earth’s atmosphere.
The first launch in aid of the Chinese Space Station will likely launch during the second half of 2019.
Image Credit: CCTV