Thu Apr 29, 2021 03:23 UTC
First module of the new Chinese space station. Third Chinese space station, first modular space station to be launched this century.
Tianhe is the first module of the new Chinese space station. The Central Module controls the orbit of the Station, mirroring the role played by the Russian Zvezda module of the International Space Station, and serves as a place to live and work. It has integrated racks containing scientific experiments and has five docking ports. Its architecture is very similar to that of the Zvezda module: it consists of two cylinders of different diameters placed end to end with a spherical module in the extension of the cylinder of smaller diameter serving as an airlock with 4 docking ports.
The androgynous docking system is identical to the one used by the existing Chinese vessels: it is a Russian version of the APAS-89 implemented on board Buran shuttle, Mir and the Russian module of the International Space Station. The spherical part includes in its upper part a hatch for extra-vehicular exits while the docking port located in the lower part seems to be reserved for Shenzhou vessels. Tianhe is 14.1 meters long with a diameter of 4.2 meters. Its mass is about 22 tons. The module has a large robotic arm attached to the smaller diameter cylinder. It also has two large deployable solar panels, each measuring 11 by 4.6 meters.