China Launches First Module of Space Station

China has successfully launched the first module of its space station, called Tianhe or Heavenly Harmony, from the island of Hainan. The module contains the living quarters for crew members.

After 10 missions to deliver parts to low Earth orbit, China’s space station is expected to be fully operational by 2022. It will be used for scientific and medical experiments. 12 astronauts are currently training to live in space for a longer period of time.

China’s space station will not be as large as the International Space Station ISS, but similar to the Russian Mir space station which was in operation between 1986 and 2001.

The construction of its own space station is seen as a further step in China’s ambitious billion-dollar space program. The first satellite was launched in 1970 and the first manned mission was carried out in 2003. Recently a lunar probe has brought back the first samples from the moon since the 1970s.

Illustration of the Chinese Space Station and its modules
Saggittarius A, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Words

  • ambitious = if you really want to be successful in doing something
  • currently = at the moment
  • deliver = bring
  • further = another
  • launch = here: to start a rocket into space
  • living quarters = rooms where the astronauts live
  • lunar probe= unmanned spaceship that landed on the moon
  • manned mission = space flight where people are on board
  • module = part
  • operational = working and ready to be used
  • orbit = to move around a planet
  • recently = a short time ago
  • samples = here : rocks from the moon
  • satellite = object that is sent to space and moves around the Earth, moon or other planet
  • similar = like