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Watching the launch of the final large module to China’s Tiangong-3 space station

UPDATE: The Mengtian module has been deployed, and is now proceeding to a rendezvous and docking within the next day or so. The core stage is in orbit, and we can only wait over the next few days to find out where it will hit the Earth.

The leaders in the 2022 launch race:

49 SpaceX
47 China
18 Russia
8 Rocket Lab

American private enterprise still leads China 69 to 47, though it now trails the rest of the world combined 74 to 69.

Original post:
The launch of the final large module for China’s Tiangong-3 space station is scheduled to occur at 12:37 am (Pacific) tonight.

The module is called Mengtian, and once moved to its permanent port will complete the station in its t-shape. The rocket is the Long March 5B, the core stage of which will reach orbit, and then within a week crash uncontrolled somewhere on Earth.

I have embedded the English live stream below. A lot of Chinese propaganda (though not much different from a NASA broadcast). As I understand it, the launch window is instantaneous, so if there are any holds the launch will be scrubbed for the day.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

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  • Jeff Wright

    I’m calling Celebes for the booster return :)

  • Jeff Wright


    What the LM-5 looks like—before and after:

    How’s that for a Halloween scare?

  • sippin_bourbon

    What is the general size comparison to ISS?
    It looks less than half.

    I am thinking in terms of work space /volume, not over station dimensions.

  • sippin_bourbon: The modules on Tiangong-3 are roughly the same size as the modules on ISS. ISS has approximately three times the modules (though some are half-size).

    Excluding the giant truss that holds ISS’s solar panels, I would guess the interior space of ISS is a little more than twice Tiangong-3’s. This is a back of the envelope estimate. Others I am sure produce a more accurate number.

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