International Space Agencies – Missions and Discoveries

Chinese astronauts enter Tiangong Space Station


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Tiangong space station

Mains level : Not Much

Three Chinese astronauts floated into the country’s new Tiangong space station for a three-month mission.

Tiangong Space Station

  • Tiangong means “Heavenly Palace”.
  • It was 10.4 metres long and 3.35 metres wide at its widest point, and weighed 8.6 metric tonnes.
  • It was launched on September 15, 2016 and, in late 2016, hosted two Chinese astronauts for 30 days in what was China’s longest manned space mission so far.
  • The recently decommissioned space lab followed the Tiangong-1, China’s first space station, which crashed into the southern Pacific Ocean on April 1, 2018 after Chinese scientists lost control of the spacecraft.
  • China had launched Tiangong-1 in 2011 as proof-of-concept of technologies for future stations.
  • The Tiangong will be fully operational by the end of 2022.

Features of this Space Station

  • The significant feature of Tiangong is its two robotic arms.
  • The US has previously expressed concern over its ability to grab objects including satellites from space.
  • The 10-meter-long arm was in action previously seen in action successfully grabbing and moving a 20 tonne Tianzhou-2 cargo ship in a test.
  • One of the noteworthy tasks for the Shenzhou-14 crew is to test and operate the large and small
  • The small arm is quite flexible and can perform operations with greater precision.


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