The new Chinese space station is now configured with three modules and three spacecraft and a total of six occupants.
Shenzhou-15, carrying three taikonauts, docked with the Chinese space station just over eight hours after taking off. A taikonaut is a person who travels in space for the Chinese space program; an astronaut from China. It is the first rotation of a Chinese crew in orbit, which increased the space laboratory’s staff to six. The hatch was opened by Chen Dong, the crew commander of Shenzhou-14, at 23:33 UTC on 29 November. The space station is called Tiangong, which means “palace in the sky.” It is roughly one-fifth the mass of the International Space Station. This space station is what is referred to as a third-generation modular space station.
The space station from China is always worth the trip
Xinhua reports that the three occupants of the space station – Fei Junlong (commander), Deng Qingming, and Zhang Lu – greeted the newcomers with hugs and then took a group photograph with thumbs up while saying: “The space station from China is always worth the trip.” During docking, Shenzhou-15 was connected to Tianhe, the space station’s core module. As a result, the space station is now configured with three modules and three spacecraft, weighing almost 100 tons altogether. To complete planned tasks and handover work, the six taikonauts will live and work together for about five days. The new crew members of the Tiangong space station will spend six months in orbit fine-tuning the space station upon completion.
Among its many mission goals, the taikonauts will attempt to reproduce monkeys in zero gravity. As the Shenzhou-15 taikonauts spend their stay in orbit, they’ll witness the arrival of the Tianzhou-6’s cargo spacecraft and Shenzhou-16’s manned spacecraft. Also, a handover will take place with the upcoming Shenzhou-16 crew in orbit. After successfully launching Shenzhou-15, China has sent 16 astronauts to space while the search for the next batch of space explorers continues.