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China launches the third and final module of the Tiangong space station: state television

The Long March 5B rocket, which will launch China's Mengtian Science Module to the Tiangong Space Station, is seen before its scheduled launch from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China's Hainan province on October 31, 2022. (Photo by CNS/AFP) / China EX

The Long March 5B rocket, which will launch China’s Mengtian Science Module to the Tiangong Space Station, is seen before its scheduled launch from the Wenchang Space Launch Center in south China’s Hainan province on October 31, 2022. (Photo by CNS/AFP) / China EX

Beijing, China — China launched the final module of its Tiangong space station on Monday, state media reported, marking the latest step in Beijing’s ambitious space program.

The module, called Mengtian, or “dream of heaven,” was “launched on a Long March 5B rocket from the Wenchang Launch Center” on the tropical island of Hainan in China, state broadcaster CCTV said.

Hobby photographers and space enthusiasts watched the launch — which took place at 3:27 p.m. (07:27 GMT) — from a nearby beach.

Mengtian is the third and final major component of the T-shaped Tiangong space station and carries a number of advanced scientific instruments into orbit, including “the world’s first space-based cold atomic clock system,” state news agency Xinhua said.

“If successful, cold atomic clocks will form the most accurate time and frequency system in space, which should not lose a second in hundreds of millions of years,” Zhang Wei, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told Xinhua.

Next year, Beijing plans to launch the Xuntian Space Telescope.

China has invested heavily in its space program in an effort to catch up with major space powers like the US and Russia.

In previous missions, Beijing has landed a rover on Mars and sent probes to the Moon.

China has been excluded from the International Space Station (ISS) since 2011, when the US banned NASA from interacting with Beijing.

Tiangong, which means “heavenly palace”, will operate for about ten years and conduct various experiments in near-zero gravity conditions.

It is similar to the Soviet Mir station, which orbited the Earth from the 1980s to 2001.

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https://technology.inquirer.net/119053/china-launches-third-and-final-module-for-tiangong-space-station-state-tv

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