China has launched their second in history space station yesterday from placed on Gobi desert Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
Launch took place at 14:04 GMT on Thursday in the first day of planned launch. Long March 2F/T2 rocket was launched from Pad 921 at Launch Complex 43 what ended its 40-day time period in Jiuquan spent after delivering on special ship from Beijing. Space laboratory was successfully placed on orbit and will continue its space journey during rest of its operational life on 380 km circular orbit.
Launch of the rocket was conducted correctly without any problems; live broadcast started from the moment of retracting supporting arms from 52-meter (with core diameter at 3.35 m) launch vehicle at T-50″ . Weighing 493 t rocket lifted of two seconds after firing core and boosters at 14:04 GMT. As usual during flight of Long March 2F/T2, all four boosters powered with YF-20B engines were jettisoned at T+2’30” after they burned 37 t of N2O4/UDMH. After few seconds later first stage (powered by four YF-20B engines) was separated from second stage. One minute later at T+3’35” payload fairing was jettisoned. At around T+8′ main engine of upper stage, YF-24B providing 861 kN of thrust, was cut off. Along with Tiangong-2 it continued ballistic flight until T+10′, when weighing 8500 kg station separated and started its mission from deploying solar arrays at T+15′ and performing series of maneuvers to reach designated orbit of 380 km. Final success was officially confirmed slightly after T+10′.
Long March 2F/T2 delivered also to orbit small satellite called Banxing-2. This weighing 40 kg satellite will be used to take images of the laboratory after separation and during reaching designated orbit. It will use high resolution camera equipped with 25 Mpix matrix combined with number of imaging devices using fisheye lens. Previous Banxing satellite was used in the same purpose during mission of the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft.