China successfully launched a 22-metric-ton module April 28, beginning an intense period of missions for constructing the nation’s own space station.
A Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket lifted off from the coastal Wenchang spaceport at 11:23 p.m. Eastern. The Tianhe space station core module separated from the first stage after 490 seconds of flight.
Solar array deployment occurred just over an hour after launch. Li Shangfu, chief commander of the China Manned Spaceflight Program, announced launch success shortly after.
Tianhe, or “harmony of the heavens,” is now expected to raise its orbit to around 370 kilometers above the Earth. The uncrewed Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft is slated to rendezvous and dock with Tianhe in mid-late May, ahead of the visit of three astronauts aboard Shenzhou-12 in June.
The 16.6-meter-long, 4.2-meter-diameter Tianhe will provide regenerative life support and the main living quarters for astronauts as well as propulsion to maintain orbital altitude.
16 meters sounds long to me. I was wondering how many rockets currently have fairings that can hold 16 meter long x 4 m diameter cylinders.
Question: What are the longest current rocket payload fairings, capable of carrying long space station sections? (circa 16 meters) I'm seeing 18 m (60 ft) long and 4.6 m (15 ft) wide for the Shuttle, but could the same thing be launched by something besides a "Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket" today?