Test on the Chinese space station brings incredible views of Earth’s orbit

About ten days ago, China successfully launched a Long March 5B rocket towards the Tiangong space station, carrying the Wentian research module, which docked at the orbital laboratory about 13 hours later.

Now, the station’s current crew, members of the Shenzhou-14 mission, are conducting a series of tests on the new module, including installing and configuring its small robotic arm.


Images released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and reproduced by CCTV, the country’s main television network, show impressive views of Earth’s orbit. Image: CNSA

In addition to the roughly twenty-foot instrument, the module contains a range of scientific experiment cabinets, extra sleeping quarters for the astronauts and backup systems for the space station.

A video released by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) shows the arm detaching itself from its base, crawling along the fuselage of Tiangong and docking with one of the adapters outside the orbital laboratory, in an excellent demonstration of its capabilities and status. of operation.

The images also include stunning, albeit brief, views of oceans and clouds on Earth, with lighting conditions changing as the space station moves into the planet’s low orbit, approximately 400 km above the surface.

According to the CNSA, Wentian’s robotic arm will be used to support extravehicular activities conducted by astronauts, as well as maintain and repair the space station’s exterior whenever necessary. It can operate independently or work in conjunction with a 10-meter-long robotic arm in the Tianhe core module.

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In October, the orbiting laboratory will receive another research module, Mengtian. With the inclusion of these two capsules, the Chinese space station will be complete, reaching the projected T-shape. It will have 20% of the total mass of the International Space Station (ISS), with an estimated lifespan of 10 years, which can be extended by another five years with future upgrades.

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