China's Tiangong Station Successfully Tests Its Robotic Arm

The International Space Station hasthe robotic arm Canadarm2, which plays an important role in the assembly and maintenance of the station. Thanks to this design, it is easier for astronauts to work in outer space, because it independently moves the necessary equipment and parts. The Chinese space station Tiangong is equipped with about the same manipulator, the first segment of which was launched into low-Earth orbit at the end of April 2021. Recently, representatives of the PRC's Manned Space Flight Program announced that they had successfully tested it in action. During the test, a robotic arm dragged the Tianzhou 2 cargo spacecraft to the side and returned it to its place. Let's find out more details about the challenge.

Orbital station "Tiangong"

Interesting fact: at the end of 2021, Tiangong station narrowly escaped a collision with SpaceX's Starlink space satellite. This event became the reason for the scandal, which I described here.

Tiangong robotic arm test

Space robotic arm testTiangong station was held on January 6, 01:59 am Moscow time. During the test, the Tianzhou-2 cargo ship undocked from the main station segment, was moved to the side with the help of a robotic arm, and successfully returned to its place. After that, the ship docked safely back. It is worth recalling that there are several Tianzhou ships and all of them are used to deliver goods. Changzheng-7 launch vehicles are used to launch them into orbit.

Unfortunately, there is no video from the tests, because China is reluctant to share such details.

Features of the Chinese station "Tiangong"

At the moment inside the space station"Tiangong" there are three people. The taikonauts were flown there on October 16 by the Shenzhou 13 spacecraft. They will spend six months inside the station, during which they will be engaged in the arrangement of the inner and outer parts of the structure. Sometimes they go out into outer space - the first sortie was carried out on November 7. Most likely, in 2022 they will also go out into space, but the exact dates of these events are unknown.

Taikonauts inside Tiangong Station

It is important to note that Tiangong is the firstspace station built in China. Like many other stations, it consists of modules, each of which is launched into outer space during different missions. The first segment was launched in April last year - all subsequent sections are docked with it. Thanks to this approach, engineers assemble a huge structure in space without having to launch huge loads at one time. Until now, only cargo and passenger ships that have delivered the necessary equipment and people have docked to the first segment.

The Tiangong space station is located at an altitude of 400 meters

The Tiangong space station is located onan altitude of 400 kilometers. It is expected that it will eventually consist of three large modules and weigh about 60 tons. There is enough space inside the station for a permanent stay of three people. However, during the crew change, up to six researchers will be able to stay inside. If all goes according to plan, the Chinese Tiangong station will operate for 10 years. It is possible that it will last longer, but it is too early to talk about this at the moment. Perhaps, not only taikonauts will work at the station, but also scientists from other countries. The official launch of the Tiangong station is scheduled for 2022.

See also: Space debris damaged the ISS robotic arm

Lunar station construction

In mid-2021, it became known that Chinawants to cooperate with Russia to create a lunar station. The project to create a station on the lunar surface is called the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) - any country can take part in it. The invitation to participate in the project was sent to the European Space Agency (ESA), and Thailand, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also expressed their desire to take part in this. It is possible that the project will receive support from private companies like Blue Origin, Rocket Lab, and so on. But SpaceX is unlikely to appear in this case, because it helps create a lunar station for NASA.

What the lunar station will look like is unknown

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It is known that the construction of the lunar station will be divided into three stages. I talked about each of them in this article.