China has completed in November the docking of the Mengtian laboratory to its Tiangong space station, put into orbit in April of 2021. This module completes the main section of the station, composed of the central part of the terminal, named Tianhe, and two laboratories, Wentian and Mengtian, set up in a T-shaped configuration.
The station is orbiting at approximately 400 kilometers from Earth and is much smaller than the International Space Station (ISS). It is designed to house three astronauts during long stays to conduct research work.
Tiangong means “heavenly palace” and, as of now, it has been home to the three first taikonauts—among them the first female Chinese astronaut, Liu Yang.
The new Mengtian module (“dreaming of paradise”) will be used to perform experiments in microgravity, complementing the biological studies conducted in the Wentian laboratory (“quest for the heavens”). Its objectives include the development of a controlled ecosystem.
Mengtian has a mass of 23 tons, a length of 17.88 meters and a maximum diameter of 4.2 meters. With this successful docking, China continues its development as a space power.