Science

Robotic arm tests on Chinese space station bring stunning views from orbit

China is testing its new Wentian space station module, including testing a new robotic arm.

Wentian launched on July 24 and docked with the main Tianhe module a few hours later, expanding China’s Tiangong space station to two modules.

The new module includes a range of science experiment rooms, additional sleeping quarters for astronauts and backup systems for the space station, and a small robotic arm measuring about 19.6 feet (six meters).

Related: Latest news about China’s space program

A Chinese Long March 5B rocket launches the Wentian module of China's Tiangong space station on July 24, 2022.

A Chinese Long March 5B rocket launches the Wentian module of China’s Tiangong space station on July 24, 2022. (Image credit: CCTV)

A video released by the Chinese manned space agency CMSA shows the arm detaching from its base, crawling across the surface of the space station and docking with one of the adapters outside Tiangong, demonstrating its capabilities and functional state.

The footage includes stunning views of the oceans and clouds far below Earth, and lighting conditions change as the space station orbits the planet.

The Wentian robotic arm will be used to support astronauts during spacewalks and to maintain and repair the exterior of the space station.

The arm can operate independently or together with the existing 33ft (10m) large robotic arm on the Tianhe main module.

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