China’S New Space Station Now Occupied!
On Oct 18th, Chinese astronauts onboard the Shenzhou 11 spacecraft docked with China’s new space station, the Tiangong 2.
Moments before the link-up, cameras on the Shenzhou 11 photographed the station’s docking port as the two craft flew in tandem 250 miles above Earth
This means there are now two occupied space stations orbiting Earth. The other one, of course, is the International Space Station (ISS). Compared to the ISS, the Tiangong 2 is small.
Indeed, it nearly doubled in size when the Shenzhou 11 joined it. Linked together, the merged spacecraft will orbit Earth for the next month providing a home in space about the size of a double decker bus.
If all goes as planned, astronauts Jing Haipeng and Chen Dong will more than double the record for the longest-duration Chinese crewed mission, extending the mark from 15 days to 33 days.
They will spend their time conducting science experiments and rehearsing procedures for future missions: Within a few years, China plans to start launching modules for a much larger Mir-class space station slated for completion in the 2020s.