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China’s first cargo spacecraft successfully docks with the Tiangong-2 space lab

China has successfully docked its first cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 with the Tiangong-2 space lab. It is hailed as a major step towards China’s ambition of establishing a permanently manned space station by 2022. China has an ambitious plan of building a permanent space station by 2022, that will be in the orbit for at least 10 years. Tiangong-2 (Heavenly Palace 2) space lab was home to two astronauts for a month in last October. T It was China’s longest-ever manned space mission. iangong-2 was put up into space on September 15, 2016.China has prioritised advancing its space programme to strengthen national security.

Tianzhou-1 is a tube-like craft which is capable of carrying 6 tonnes of goods, 2 tonnes of fuel and can fly unmanned for three months. It is considered that the cargo spacecraft has provided an important technological basis for building a space station. According to Chinese sources, Tianzhou-1 will dock two more times with Tiangong-2 before falling back to Earth.

Despite its achievements, China still lags behind the United States and Russia. For instance, in 2013, China’s rover, ‘Jade Rabbit’ which landed on moon faced many technical difficulties.

Criticism

The US Defence Department has accused China of pursuing activities that are aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets in a crisis. However, China has refuted such claims and has stated it has only peaceful ambitions in space, but has tested anti-satellite missiles. In 2011, the US Congress ordered that Chinese astronauts should not be allowed to enter International Space Station (ISS) owing to national security concerns.

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SpaceX successfully launches Dragon Cargo capsule using Falcon 9 rocket

SpaceX successfully launched its Dragon Cargo capsule filled with supplies for astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

The Dragon Cargo capsule was launched using SpaceX’s workhorse Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

After successful take off, the Falcon 9 rocket separated from cargo after sending in into orbit. Then the first stage of the rocket successfully landed back on the solid ground in Cape Canaveral at the NASA facility.

Key Facts

  • This is SpaceX’s second attempt at delivering the docking port after Falcon 9 rocket exploded two minutes after liftoff in 2015.
  • The launch was resupply mission for NASA and the capsule was carrying equipments that were lost in 2015 explosion.
  • The capsule is carrying about 23000 kilograms of cargo, including ferrying instruments to perform the first-ever DNA sequencing in space.
  • It was also carrying a critical space station docking adapter for commercial spacecraft. The Dragon capsule will reach the ISS on 20 July 2016.
  • It will leave the space station on August 29, 2016 and shall bring 3,300 pounds of hardware, science, crew supplies and spacewalk tools back to Earth.

Dragon Cargo capsule: It is a SpaceX’s free-flying spacecraft. It is designed to deliver both people and cargo to orbiting destinations. In 2012, the capsule had created history by becoming the first commercial spacecraft in space history to deliver cargo to the ISS and safely return cargo to Earth. Earlier all space deliveries were done by government space agencies. Currently Dragon Cargo capsule is only spacecraft in operation capable of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth

Falcon 9 rocket: It is SpaceX’s two-stage-to-orbit launch vehicle designed and manufactured by Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), a private space transportation company based in Hawthorne, California.

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NASA successfully deploys BEAM, first inflatable room attached to International Space Station

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has successfully deployed the first experimental inflatable room attached to the International Space Station (ISS).

The experimental inflatable room dubbed as BEAM (Bigelow Expandable Activity Module) was deployed after it was successfully expanded and pressurized.

Key facts

  • The inflatable room BEAM has been built by Nevada Company Bigelow Aerospace.
  • It will be attached to the ISS for a two-year test and is the first such habitat to hold humans in orbit.
  • It is made up of aluminium and soft fabric which expands in space. It is light weight and also takes minimal space. It creates place for astronauts to live and work.
  • It is 4 metres long and 3.2 metres in diameter with 16 cubic metres of interior volume when fully expanded.
  • Its 2 year orbital test is intended to pave the way towards the use of such habitable rooms for long space trips, including to Mars and Moon.

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