China launches space station module

HELSINKI Finland As China prepares to complete the construction of its Tiangong space station, work on assembling a Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket is underway at Wenchang spaceport.

The China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced on September 3 that components for the 849-metric-ton Long March 5B rocket had been delivered to Wenchang.

The rocket is now being prepared for the launch of the 17.9-meter-long, 4.2-meter-diameter, 22-ton Mengtian ("dreaming of the heavens") experiment module in early October.

Mengtian will orbit alongside two previous modules, the Tianhe core module and the Wentian experiment module, to complete the T-shaped Tiangong space station.

China plans to keep the space station permanently occupied for at least a decade in order to gain human spaceflight experience, conduct a variety of experiment.

Mengtian will be China's third module launch in 18 months, following the April 2021 launch of Tianhe and the July 2018 launch of Wentian. 

China had planned to launch Tianhe in 2018, but the project was delayed due to a Long March 5 launch failure in July 2017 and subsequent engine issues.

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