China’s space station to be operational by 2022

Image courtesy of CCTV and CNSA.

China plans to make its manned space station fully operational by 2022, constructing it via on-orbit assembly in three or four batches.

Said Deputy Director of China’s Manned Space Agency Yang Liwei, “The space station compartments will be launched by the Long March 5B at the Wenchang Space Launch Site; the cargo spacecraft will be launched by the Long March 7; the Shenzhou manned spacecraft will be launched by the Long March 2F at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center,”

According to Yang, the space station will be T-shaped, with one core module and two experimental modules. The space station will have a design life of 10 years and will be able to accommodate six astronauts, with each expedition lasting 6 months.

Experiments aboard the space station will focus on life sciences and biotechnology, material science, microgravity fluid mechanics, physics, and combustion, among others. Affixed onto the station will also be a 2-m broad spectrum telescope for the study of astronomy and cosmology.

In its efforts to promote its space station internationally, China is currently in discussions with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), as well as individual nations. One collaborative project China hopes to achieve is in the joint training of astronauts, such as that which took place in 2017 between China and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Said Yang Liwei about international cooperation, “This year, China and UNOOSA will jointly open cooperation opportunities for the Chinese space station. China and ESA, along with other nations, will also explore cooperation opportunities on manned lunar exploration technologies.”

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