China launched Wentian lab module on Sunday is to dock with Tianhe, which can function as both a backup module and a scientific platform focusing on life science and biotechnology researches.
The Long March-5B Y3 carrying Wentian module blasted off from the Wenchang launch site at 2:22pm (Beijing time). The Wentian module measures 17.9 meter long with a diameter of 4.2 meters max and has a takeoff mass of around 23 tones. According to Liu Gang, deputy chief designer of the China manned space program, the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), it is the heaviest single cabin spacecraft in the active orbit. Wentian module has three cabins – work cabin, airlock cabin, and a research cabin.
Backup module’s functions include maintaining the attitude, orbit control and also energy, information and manned environment management. The airlock cabin enables the astronauts to perform extravehicular activities (EVAs) for the first time in the orbit.
As a part of environmental control, Wentian is designed with better noise control and shock pads. The recycling and support function enables better oxygen level through electrolysing water, removing exhaled carbon dioxide, and removing harmful gases.
Module for Research:
Wentian focuses mainly on life science and biotechnology researches. Researchers have deployed more than 10 topics in four different fields including space life science and biotechnology, space material science, microgravity fluid physics, and new space application technologies.
The researchers have also installed life ecology experiment cabinet, science glove box and cryogenic storage cabinet, biotechnology experiment cabinet, variable gravity experiment cabinet, along with common support equipment for application tasks.
“Scientists from all over the world are welcome to visit China’s space station to carry out basic scientific research. We welcome international cooperation and hope to make good use of the space station with them,” Wang said.
The lab modules are equipped with flexible solar wings with a photoelectric conversion rate of 30 percent. These wings are expected to generate an average power of 430 kWh every day. Each solar wing exceeds 55 meters when extended and are tightly folded during the launch.
“To reach the thinness, researchers have almost ‘pressed’ the original three-dimensional components into plane ones,” Yu said.