by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Feb 29, 2016
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.
One lunar day lasts approximately 14 earth days.
The spacecraft has stood the test of extreme low temperatures during 27 lunar nights since its successful soft landing on the moon in December 2013, according to a statement by SASTIND.
Although the moon lander has already exceeded its design life by 14 months, the astronomical telescope and other surveying devices it is carrying still work well.
The engineering and scientific data it has transmitted will pave the way for scientific research and future lunar probes, and the data is globally accessible, SASTIND said.
SASTIND also said that preparation for the country's next lunar probe mission, Chang'e-5, is under way, and it is expected to be launched around 2017.
The Chang'e-5 probe will be tasked with landing on the moon, collecting samples and returning to Earth.
China National Space Administration
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com
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