Tiangong 1, the first Chinese space station
– News of June 9, 2019 –
The history of Chinese manned flight is quite short, but it is already very interesting. After designing the Shenzhou spacecraft, China began building space stations. Tiangong 1 was launched in September 2011. It consisted of a service module and a pressurized module with a volume of 15 cubic meters. The space station remained in orbit for only six years and was docked by only three Shenzhou spacecrafts, each time for quite short periods.
The first spacecraft was fully automated without anyone on board, which validated the docking technique needed for the next flight. Two crews then visited Tiangong 1 in 2012 and 2013 for stays of 3 and 12 days. Tiangong 1 returned to Earth’s atmosphere in April 2018. This year, Tiangong 2 is also expected to return to Earth.
Image by CMSE