CGI Shows How China's Space Station Looks Like in Orbit

For a very long time, despite the many nations running their own space exploration programs, humanity had only one crewed habitat in orbit around Earth: the International Space Station (ISS). And then the Chinese came along with their Sky Palace…
Chinese Tiangong space station 7 photos
Photo: Hazegrayart
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The ISS was officially born in 1998, when the first component was launched to orbit. Since then, more than 230 people from 18 countries visited the place, ready to perform various tasks for their nations.

None of these people were Chinese. Despite being an international facility, and despite China rapidly expanding its space program, the Asian behemoth and its citizens are not allowed on the ISS. That's because, despite repeated proposals from others, the U.S. opposes China's presence on the station.

Left with no choice the Chinese launched in 2021 the first module of the Tiangong space station. Tiangong is the word for Sky (or Heavenly) Palace, and has come to represent the country's first permanently crewed space station, and the second one to orbit our planet these days.

At the time of writing Tiangong spins around our planet at a distance of up to 450 km (280 miles). It carries with it a crew of three, living inside a habitat with a pressurized volume of 340 cubic meters (12,000 cubic feet).

We all have a rather clear mental picture of what the ISS looks like, thanks to the many images of the places beamed down to the surface over the years. The Tiangong on the other hand is so new and so… Chinese that's doubtful many of us can imagine how it looks.

Below this text there's a video that may help with that. It is a short, two-minute CGI film put together by space tech animation specialist Hazegrayart to give us a better idea of what China has sent up there.

Aptly called a fly-around of the station, the clip starts with the digital camera zooming in on the station with a night-time Earth in the background.

We are immediately treated to the image of a cross-shaped structure, with three main modules tied together, and a spacecraft attached to one of the docking ports. Large solar panel arrays are there to supply the station with necessary power.

The clip then shows the place from different angles, and even on the Sun-bathed side of the planet. We're finally treated to what looks like the beginning of a docking operation, but the CGI clip ends before we are able to see how that unfolds.

Chances are we will eventually get to see how the place looks like as seen for real from space, but until we do this here clip is more than revealing when it comes to what the Tiangong has to offer.

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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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