The Long March-5B Y3 launch vehicle, carrying the Wentian lab module, blasted off from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site at 14:22 (Beijing Time) on July 24, 2022. About 495 seconds later, the Wentian module successfully separated from the rocket and entered the preset orbit. The launch is a complete success.
This is the 24th flight mission since the approval and launch of China Manned Space Program. The launched Wentain lab module is the second module for China Space Station and also the first scientific lab module. Wentian is composed of a working module, an airlock chamber and a resource module, with a takeoff weight of about 23t. It is mainly used to support the astronauts on orbit, extra-vehicular activity and space science experiments. At the same time, it can be used as a backup of the Tianhe core module to manage the space station.
After entering the orbit, the Wentian lab module successfully completed the state setting. At 3:13 on July 25, 2022 (Beijing time), it successfully docked with the front port of Tianhe core module. The whole process of rendezvous and docking lasted about 13 hours. This is the first time for China to accomplish the rendezvous and docking of two 20t-level spacecraft in orbit, and also the first space rendezvous and docking during astronauts' in-orbit stay at the space station.
At 10:03 on July 25, 2022, the Shenzhou-14 crew successfully entered the module after opening the hatch of the Wentian lab module. This is the first time for Chinese astronauts to enter a scientific lab module in orbit. Afterwards, the in-orbit operations such as the attitude fusion control of the combination, the crawling of small robotic arm, and the combined test of the large and small robotic arms will be carried out as planned. The airlock chamber and the small robotic arm of Wentian will be used to conduct extravehicular activities.
After about an hour of space-ground cooperation, China's Wentian Lab Module successfully completed in-orbit transposition at 12:44 p.m. Beijing Time on September 30, 2022.
During the transposition, the Wentian Lab Module first completed its state configuration and separated from the space station's core module Tianhe. Following up, Wentian conducted its plane transposition and then docked with the side port of the space station's node cabin.
It was the first time China has completed the in-orbit transposition of a large-scale spacecraft cabin by applying transposition facilities. After the transposition of the Wentian Lab Module, the combination of the space station has changed from a straight line to L-shape. After the launch, rendezvous and docking of the Mengtian Lab Module, the three-module combination will be maneuvered to take on a T-shape.