Chinese space station robot arm tests bring amazing views from orbit

China is testing out its new Wentian space station module, including putting a new robotic arm through its paces.

Wentian was launched on July 24 and docked with the Tianhe core module hours later, expanding China's Tiangong space station to two modules. 

The new module features a range of science experiment cabinets, extra astronaut sleeping quarters and backup systems for the space station, but also carries with it a small robotic arm, measuring about 19.6 feet (six meters).

Related: The 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 China's human spaceflight agency, CMSA, shows the arm disengaging from its base, crawling along the surface of the space station and docking with one of the adapters outside Tiangong, demonstrating its capabilities and functional status.

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

Wentian's robotic arm will be used for supporting the extravehicular activities conducted by astronauts and maintaining and repairing the exterior of the space station.

The arm can operate independently or work together with an existing large, 33-foot-long (10 m) robotic arm on the Tianhe core module.

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Andrew Jones
Contributing Writer

Andrew is a freelance space journalist with a focus on reporting on China's rapidly growing space sector. He began writing for in 2019 and writes for SpaceNews, IEEE Spectrum, National Geographic, Sky & Telescope, New Scientist and others. Andrew first caught the space bug when, as a youngster, he saw Voyager images of other worlds in our solar system for the first time. Away from space, Andrew enjoys trail running in the forests of Finland. You can follow him on Twitter @AJ_FI.