Chinese space agency is scheduled to launch its second Spacelab satellite Tiangong-2 next week. The Tiangong-2 will be carried by the Long March 2F rocket. The engineers have transported both the rocket and the satellite to the launch pad located at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
The main aim of Tiangong-2 is to verify life support systems and refueling technology for its 60-ton modular space station. The satellite will be placed in an orbit of 393 kilometers above the Earth. It will assist researchers in fundamental physics, biology, fluid mechanics in microgravity, space science including monitoring of Earth from space.
Tiangong-2 measures the topography of oceans
Moreover, the Tiangong-2 has the capability to measure the topography of the oceans with very high precision. This will enable scientists to study Earth’s gravity field.
Commenting on the development, Johnson-Freese, an expert on the Chinese space program and a professor at the US Naval War College disclosed that the vast majority of space technology being developed is dual-use. Hence, it serves the purpose of Chinese security interests as well.
Tiangong-2 carries POLAR, a gamma-ray detector
Codenamed as POLAR, the payload will also be on-board Tiangong-2, which is a gamma-ray detector. Developed in association with China, Switzerland, and Poland, the POLAR will perform a comprehensive study of Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs). It is regarded as the most energetic event in the universe. According to sources, POLAR will have a life span of two years and will observe a total of 20 GRBs.
Tianzhou-1 meets Tianzhou-2 by Q1 2017
According to sources close to the Chinese space agency, Tianzhou-1, which is the country’s first refueling and cargo vessel, will meet Tiangong-2 by Q1 2017. It will be launched via Long March 7 rocket.
In the meantime, China is also gearing up to launch Tianhe-1, a core space station module in 2018. This satellite will be lifted along with the Long March 5, which is regarded as the most powerful Chinese rocket.
There are reports that Chinese scientists are also making Hubble-like telescope which is scheduled for 2020.