Tiangong, the Chinese manned space station

Tiangong, the Chinese manned space station

Tiangong, the Chinese manned space station

The China National Space Administration has big plans for the near future. Chinese authorities announced that the first Chinese manned space station currently named Tiangong (“Heavenly Palace” in free translation) will be fully completed by 2020. The Project 921-2 consisting in building a module type space station was launched in 1992.

The first module consisting in a apace laboratory named Tiangong 1 is scheduled to be launched in October 2011. This target vehicle is made of a lab module, a resource module and a docking mechanism, having a final mass of only 9 tons. In this phase a crew of three astronauts will go in space with Tiangong 1 for a short term stay in space.

The astronauts on board of Tiangong 1 are not the first Chinese traveling to space. The history of human traveling in space for China started  in 2003 when Yang Liwei became the first Chinese astronaut ever to travel in space aboard Shenzhou-5.

Another successful mission for Chinese space program followed in 2008, when another three Chinese astronauts aboard the Shenzhou-7, carried out successfully the first Chinese spacewalk.

The project Tiangong is developed fully by Chinese capabilities, with no connections to other countries that also have space programs.

The “Heavenly Palace” will weight only about 60 tons which is extremely light in comparison to the 419 tons of the International Space Station or the 137 tons of the MIR station. A strength of the project Chinese space station consists in the superior technology that will be used for the multi-modular system.

China also has planes to launch a second lunar probe in October 2011 as a first step and in preparation for an unmanned moon landing by the end of 2012. A manned lunar mission will be possible in few years being proposed as a target date the year 2017.

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