The Wentian module was sent into space using China's most powerful rocket Long March-5B-Y3

China is well on its way to completing the construction of its permanent space station in Earth’s low orbit. On Sunday, it hauled the second of the three modules to its Tiangong space station

Advancing its space program that has grown rapidly in the last few years, China on Sunday launched its Wentian lab module, bound for the under-construction Chinese space station. The Wentian module is the second of the three modules required to complete the Tiangong space station, launched last year in April.

The module weighing 23 tonnes at the launch was boosted into the sky using a Long March-5B Y3 rocket from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s Hainan province.

One of the engineers associated with the project was quoted as saying by Chinese state media, “This is the first time the Long March-5B rocket will undertake a rendezvous and docking mission. It will send the lab module to dock with the core module.”

The Wentian module was a working cabin that includes three sleeping areas and one sanitary area. It is expected to accommodate six astronauts at a time, particularly when the interchange of astronauts from different space missions happens.

Moreover, Wentian has a flexible solar panel on it that will generate an average of 430 kilowatt hours per day. It is estimated that the power generation of Wentian could have easily supported the power demand of an average Beijing household for more than a month.

Reportedly, the three Chinese astronauts Chen Dong, Liu Yang, and Cai Xuzhe living in the space station, situated in Earth’s low orbit will observe the module’s arrival. Afterwards, the three will become the first crew members to float into the station’s new module.

China’s third and final module for the space station named Mengtian module is expected to be launched later this year in October. While the Wentian and Mengtian modules will be on the side, the Tianhe module will be in the centre, completing the T-shaped space station.

It is pertinent to note that the International Space Station (ISS) has whopping 16 modules. With China nearing the completion of its space station, ISS and Tiangong will be the two active space stations in Earth’s orbit. The former is expected to retire by the end of this decade.

India is expected to launch its own station by 2030, as announced by former ISRO chairman K Sivan in 2019.