CRI在线收听:China to launch Tiangong-2 space lab Thursday

After an exhaustive review of the new space lab, as well as the Long March rocket which will carry it into space, along with weather conditions, Chinese space authorities have decided to launch Tiangong-2 tonight, shortly after 10pm.

The launch coincides with the start of the Chinese mid-autumn festival holiday, which will allow many more people than normal to be able to watch the launch on television.

Based on the first prototype space lab, the Tiangong 1, Tiangong 2 is designed with two separate space modules. One is for experiments, while the other for supplies.

Wu Ping, deputy director of the Chinese Space Administration's manned space engineering office, says although Tiangong-2 is similar in size to Tiangong-1, it is a bit larger, has better living conditions and better communication technology than the previous space lab.

"Tiangong-2 can really be seen as China's space lab in its truest sense. We will make the best use of it, running tests on microgravity in space, as well as the effects of long-term stays in space. We're going to carry out various scientific, medical and technical experiments, with the ultimate goal of building and operating our own space station. "

The Tiangong-2 space lab will be carried into space by a Long March 2F rocket.

Fueling of the massive rocket began on Wednesday afternoon.

Zhu Zongpeng, chief designer of the Tiangong 2 space lab, says preparation work ahead of the launch has gone very well.

"Right now everything we need has been added to Tiangong 2, and it’s now securely installed within the carrier rocket on the launch tower. Before the final launch, we will run a few tests, including a power supply check. But so far everything appears to be in good condition. The propellant is in place and all indicators are at a normal status."

After leaving the atmosphere, Tiangong 2 will be placed in an orbit 393-kilometers above the Earth.

Once its orbit is synchronized, Chinese space authorities will prepare to launch the Shenzhou 11.

The manned spacecraft is due to be launched sometime in late October.

The 2 astronauts onboard will be tasked with docking with the Tiangong 2 space lab.

Once there, they'll conduct experiments using the latest, cutting edge technologies in areas such as fundamental physics, biology, fluid mechanics in micro gravity and aerospace medicine.

Tiangong 2 is the latest step toward the creation of China's own permanent manned space station, which is scheduled to enter service around the year 2020.

For CRI, this is Liu Mohan in Jiuquan.