The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) announced the launch of the Mengtian space module, which will be attached to its Tiangong space station. The new annex will house experiments in combustion, heat transfer, and fluid physics in microgravity, according to Chinese communist media.
Mengtian is an 18-meter (59-foot) long, 22-ton cabin designed primarily for scientific experiments. It is the third and final component of the Tiangong space station.
The regime’s aerospace authorities reported that the module is expected to lift off on October 31, although an official launch date has not yet been announced.
The CCP seems to be conducting an actual space race in which it intends to overtake leading countries such as the United States.
What does the Mengtian module consist of?
According to reports from a press conference, Mengtian is already undergoing final tests on the ground, more precisely at the coastal spaceport of Wenchang in southern China.
If all goes well, on October 31, a rocket booster will lift off the new module to be directed together with the other two in orbit, the Tianhe core module, and the Wentian experimental module. Altogether they will complete the much-announced T-shaped space station.
Among Mengtian’s announced goals is to put into orbit a world-class physics laboratory that will seek to create the coldest matter detected in human history.
Inside the module is an ultra-cold atom cabin equipped with laser devices capable of cooling atoms to about ten picokelvins,—one-millionth of a degree above absolute zero (-273.15 Celsius).
These ultracold atoms can be used in various subjects, from quantum computing and the world’s most accurate clocks, to be an ideal tool for studying fundamental physics.
Upon reaching extreme cold, the energies of the atom become so low that they stop moving and clump together to behave like a “superatom,” which would allow for a comprehensive analysis of the atom as has never been achieved before.
Many may ask, why not cool the atoms on Earth instead of sending them into space? The answer seems simple; on Earth, it is much more difficult because gravity constantly pushes the particles down, and the motion does not allow the lasers to do their job correctly.
The main objective of the Mengtian seems to be very similar to that of NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory, one of the sections of Nasa’s International Laboratory, which is currently orbiting the Earth.
The stated mission of this laboratory is “to study quantum phenomena in ways that are not possible on Earth.”
However, the regime’s space authorities claim that the Mengtian has a technology that is significantly superior to NASA’s Cold Atom Laboratory and that it will surpass the results obtained by the latter.
Regardless of whether or not the technology and the results will indeed be better, what is clear is that the CCP does not intend to be left behind in what seems to be a new space race, reminiscent of the cold war years between the United States and the former Soviet Union.
The CCP aims to deliver more than 40 space launches in 2022
As announced, the CCP, by the end of the year, will have completed more than 40 launches into space with various objectives, many associated with continuing to develop its space station.
In addition to completing its space station, the Chinese regime intends to develop a lunar base and deploy new satellites, according to an announcement by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). CASC is a state-owned firm responsible for most of the regime’s space launches.
The silent race carried out by Beijing is not something new. Its significant investments allowed 48 successful launches to be completed during 2021, adding them to the record of those planned for this year.
The CCP’s ambition to dominate everything within its reach is already more than evident. Just as it seeks to advance and dominate the Indo-Pacific, provoking major conflicts with neighboring countries, it also seeks to advance in third-world countries, generating economic dependence and influencing strategic decisions. Now it also intends to dominate space and establish a base on the moon.
The CCP has poured enormous resources into mastering space issues in recent years, and off-earth space is increasingly recognized as a contested strategic domain.
Many even warn that the CCP’s space programs may involve enormous risks on Earth.
In December 2021, General David Thompson, vice chief of space operations for the U.S. Space Force, set alarm bells ringing when he publicly stated that China is developing its space capabilities at “twice the speed” of the United States.
“The fact, that in essence, on average, they are building and fielding and updating their space capabilities at twice the rate we are means that very soon, if we don’t start accelerating our development and delivery capabilities, they will exceed us,” General Thompson said, adding, “2030 is not an unreasonable estimate.”
On the other hand, while NASA has been announcing that by 2025 it intends to carry out a new manned visit to the moon, more versions emerge indicating that Beijing’s intentions are aimed at creating a military base on the moon and acquiring sovereignty over the closest natural satellite to planet Earth.
“We should be very concerned that China is landing on the moon and saying: now it’s ours and you stay off,” warned Bill Nelson, the director of NASA, during an interview with a German newspaper a few weeks ago.