China has launched a rocket carrying a new module to its under-construction space station. The second module, called Wentian, will be used as a science laboratory.  

The Wentian module was launched atop a Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket from China’s Wenchang spaceport on the island of Hainan on July 24, 2022. Three crew members entered the new laboratory, several hours after Wentian module docked with the front part of Tianhe core module. 

The last module of the Chinese Space Station, called Mengtian, is expected to arrive by the end of 2022.  

The Chinese Space Station is part of the country’s space program. Named Tiangong ('Heavenly Palace'), the CSS will be a third of the size of the International Space Station (ISS), closer in dimension to Mir, the late Soviet space station, which orbited the Earth between 1986 and 2001.  

The Chinese Space Station is expected to be operational for approximately 10 years. However, experts have said that it could “last more than 15 years with appropriate maintenance and repairs”. 

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Three astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-14 spacecraft took off for a six-month mission to continue construction work on the Chinese Space Station.