Tiangong 2 Current Affairs

China’s Space Lab Tiangong-2 launches Micro-Satellite Banxing-2

China’s experimental space lab Tiangong-2 orbiting the Earth with two astronauts on board has successfully launched a micro-satellite Banxing-2.

The two astronauts were launched into space onboard of the Shenzhou-11 spacecraft carried two astronauts on 11 October 2016. It docked with Tiangong-2 on 13 October 2016.

About Banxing-2

  • The micro-satellite Banxing-2 is roughly the size of a desktop printer and the media has nicknamed “Selfie Stick”. It weighs 47 kilogrammes.
  • It has series of visible light cameras, including a 25 megapixel camera and wide-angle imagers. It also has an infrared camera that is temperature-sensitive.
  • Its mission is to take photographs of Tiangong II and the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft, which has been docked with the lab.
  • The micro-satellite has three solar panels which generates enough power to adjust its orbit to shoot pictures of the lab and spacecraft.
  • its predecessor, Banxing-1, accomplished the same mission for Shenzhou VII in 2008.
  • Banxing-2 is new model of its predecessor Banxing-1 which had accomplished the same mission for Shenzhou VII in 2008. However Banxing-1 is smaller and has a higher capacity.

What are Micro-satellites?

They weigh around 500 to 100 kilograms. They are usually cheaper, faster and more advanced than traditional satellites. The commercial potential has attracted much attention from businesses.

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China successfully launches its longest ever manned mission to space

China has successfully launched longest-ever manned mission by taking two astronauts Jing Haipeng (50) and Chen Dong (37) into the orbit.

They were launched on board of Shenzhou-11 (heavenly vessel) spacecraft from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre near the Gobi Desert in northwest China. The spacecraft was put into orbit by a Long March-2F carrier rocket.

Key Facts

  • Both astronauts will spend a month aboard an experimental space laboratory Tiangong-2 (Heavenly Palace 2).
  • During the mission, they will conduct aerospace medical experiments, space science experiments and in-orbit maintenance with human participation.
  • They will also undertake ultrasound tests during space travel for the first time, cultivate plants in space etc.
  • The Shenzhou-11 mission is China’s sixth manned spacecraft. It will be first time that Chinese astronauts will stay in orbit for medium term.
  • Earlier in 2013, three Chinese astronauts in a manned space mission had spent 15 days in orbit and were docked with a space laboratory Tiangong 1.

Comment

Tiangong-2 was launched in September 2016 as part of China’s efforts to set up its own permanent manned space station by 2022.  It is China’s second experimental space station module and had upgraded habitat with improved life support systems, power, communications and research equipments. By launching longest-ever manned space mission, China has moved a step closer to establish its permanent space station. After completion, it will make China, only the country to have space station facility is space as the current in-service International Space Station (ISS) retires by 2024.

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