Last year saw the successful launch of the Tianhe-1 core module of the Chinese Space Station (CSS), as well as the success of various technology verification missions. At the dawn of another major year for the Chinese Space Station, we ask what to expect for the CSS in 2022?
To recall, the deployment of the CSS is split into two phases. The first is the Key Technology Verification Phase (关键技术验证阶段) that was completed in 2021 (or perhaps arguably in January 2022, with the recent successful transfer of the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft to the side docking port of the CSS core module that we analyze below). The second is the Orbital Construction Phase (空间站在轨建造阶段) to be completed in 2022. This phase will involve 6 launches in total: two of Long March 5B to put into orbit the Mengtian and Wentian experimental modules, as well as 2 Shenzhou crewed and 2 Tianzhou cargo missions.
The Mengtian and Wentian modules will significantly increase the capabilities of the CSS, turning it from a 20t to a 60t space station. Whereas the Tianhe-1 core module is in charge of attitude and orbital control, telemetry, and constituting the living quarters of the station, the two additional modules will provide space to conduct scientific experiments.
In 2022, we can hence expect the completion of the Chinese Space Station, with the docking of the Mengtian and Wentian experimental modules to the core module of the CSS! This week’s YouTube episode breaks down some recent ongoings at the Chinese Space Station, check it out below for more details 👇