China has recently launched a new data relay satellite on its way to geostationary orbit to assist the nation’s crewed space station project.
The Tianlian 2 spacecraft lifted off on a Long March 3B rocket from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China on Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. EDT (1630 GMT; 12:30 a.m. local time on July 13), as per the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
Once it’s in position in a geostationary orbit 22,236 miles above Earth, the satellite is going to network with two different Tianlian 2 craft to enable real-time communications, containing live video links, between the ground and China’s under-construction Tiangong space station.
Tiangong is presently hosting three Shenzhou 14 mission astronauts. The trio will afterward host live-streamed science lectures for students in schools in China with the help of the Tianlian satellites.
China lifted off its first Tianlian 1 series relay satellite in April 2008. The first of the more developed second-generation Tianlian 2 satellites were launched in 2019, and Tianlian 2 launched off the ground late the previous year.
The trio is in geostationary orbits; however, it provides coverage over several areas of the world. As Tiangong orbits Earth 16 times per day, a single Tianlian satellite will provide communications support for up to 30 minutes before the space station towards another satellite’s range of coverage.