China launched a Chang Zheng 5B rocket with the Tianhe station core module to low Earth orbit, marking the start of an ambitious two year construction effort of the nation’s new multi-module space station.
Liftoff of the historic mission occurred at 23:18 EDT on Wednesday, 28 April — which was 03:18 UTC on Thursday, 29 April — from the Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site on Hainan Province island, People’s Republic of China.
Tianhe seeks “harmony of the heavens”
Launch of the Tianhe module marks a transition from China’s original human spaceflight goals to the start of a permanent presence in space. China is effectively banned from participation in the International Space Station program due to geopolitical strife with the United States.