China on Monday launched a laboratory module called Mengtian as part of its space station currently under construction.
It was launched by Long March-5B Y4, one of China’s largest rockets, from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on the coast of the southern island province of Hainan.
The scientific equipment in the Mengtian module, the second laboratory component of China’s under-construction space station, will be used to study microgravity and conduct experiments in fluid physics, materials science, combustion science and fundamental physics, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported.
The Wentian lab that was sent earlier was more focused on life sciences and space sciences.
In addition, the Mengtian will carry the world’s first space-based cold atomic clock set, consisting of a hydrogen clock, a rubidium clock and an optical clock.
“If successful, the cold atomic clocks will form the most accurate time and frequency system in space that shouldn’t lose a second in hundreds of millions of years,” said Zhang Wei, director of the Utilization Development Center of Technology and Engineering that shared the Center for Space Utilization’s Chinese Academy of Sciences recently reported to the state-run Global Times.
China is currently building its space station, and construction should be completed later this year, according to an announcement by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC).
Two batches of three astronauts were flown on six-month missions to the space station’s main module, called Tianhe, to complete construction.
While one group of astronauts was returning, another group of three astronauts were currently in Tianhe to complete construction.
When that happens, China will be the only country to own a space station. The International Space Station (ISS) of Russia is a joint project of several countries.
The China Space Station (CSS) is also expected to be a competitor to the Russian-built ISS.
Observers say CSS could become the only space station to remain in orbit for years to come as the ISS retires.
The key feature of the Chinese space station under construction is its two robotic arms, particularly the long one, which the US has previously raised concerns about its ability to grab objects, including satellites, from space.
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)