China to launch second space lab Tiangong-2 in Q3
Updated: 2016-02-28 10:16
A Long March 3B rocket lifts the satellite from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan province at 12:04 am into the geosynchronous orbit. [Photo by Zhao Zhuqing/People's Daily Online]
BEIJING - China will send its second orbiting space lab Tiangong-2 into space in the third quarter of this year, which is expected to dock with a cargo ship scheduled to be launched in the first half of next year, sources from the manned space program said Sunday.
As part of the country's space lab program, China also plans to launch the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft, which will carry two astronauts on board, in the fourth quarter of this year to dock with Tiangong-2, according to the program's spokesperson.
After its first test flight in the Wenchang satellite launch center in south China's Hainan Province, the Long March-7 rocket will put the cargo ship Tianzhou-1, which literally means "heavenly vessel," into space in the first half of 2017 to dock with Tiangong-2 and conduct experiments.
By Zhao Lei (China Daily)
A researcher works on a satellite in Changchun, Jilin province, in December. The satellite is designed to monitor and research global carbon dioxide emissions.[Photo/Xinhua]
China will conduct more than 20 space missions this year, including a manned one and the maiden flights of two rockets, according to the nation's major space contractor.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp said it plans to launch the Tiangong 2 space laboratory and the Shenzhou XI manned spacecraft and to test-fly the Long March 5 and Long March 7 rockets.
China will also launch two satellites for the domestically developed Beidou Navigation Satellite System and the Gaofen 3 for the Gaofen High-Resolution Earth Observation System.
The company said in a statement on its website, "This year will see more than 20 space launches, the most missions in a single year."
It added that the company will also launch a communications satellite for Belarus, marking the first time China has exported a communications satellite to Europe.