China unveils new ‘Heavenly Palace’ space station as ISS days numbered

Rodiano Bonacci
Novembre 9, 2018

China just showed the world that it's upping its space exploration game with the introduction of the Tiangong Space Station.

Last week, Russian investigators traced the rocket failure to a bent sensor and cleared Soyuz rockets for a series of launches, leading up to the delivery of a different set of spacefliers in December.

The 17-metre (55-foot) core module was a star attraction at the biennial Airshow China in the southern coastal city of Zhuhai, the country's main aerospace industry exhibition. It will be central to the space station's operations, as astronauts will live there and control the entire station from inside it.

The new station will technically belong to China, but will open its doors to all countries of the UN.

The module will be equipped with three docking hatches reserved for visiting manned or cargo spacecraft and two berthing locations used to connect with space laboratories.

However, China's future space station is about to change everything. The 60-ton orbiting lab could house three astronauts, allowing them to perform biological and microgravity research. Construction is expected to be completed around 2022. It places particular satellites in orbit, for its own account (Earth observation, telecommunications, gps system Beidou) or for other countries.

The space station program is called Tiangong, which means "Heavenly Palace" in Chinese. The country's state media reported that China had received around 40 plans from 27 countries and regions.

The european space agency (ESA) sends already astronauts training in China, with the goal that they are flying a day aboard the station in chinese.

The US space agency, Nasa, spends about $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year on the space station program, a level of funding that is endorsed by the Trump administration and Congress.

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