During China’s National Day, the state media revealed much information about China’s construction of the space station “Tiangong-1.” China claims it will complete the construction of the space station within two years.
The Chinese state media reported on this space station project in detail, including the construction schedule, timetable, multiple components under construction and astronaut training. China stated that it will complete 11 intensive lift-offs within two years, using the “Shenzhou” manned spacecraft and the “Tianzhou” cargo spacecraft to deliver astronauts and multiple space station modules into space.
The Long March 5-B rocket is planned to launch at the Wenchang Launch Center in Hainan province in the first half of 2021 to carry the “Tianhe” core cabin module. The Long March 2-F rocket will subsequently launch at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province, carrying the “Shenzhou” manned spacecraft.
China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) announced on October 1 that 18 astronauts will participate in the program, including seven pilots, seven aerospace engineers and four payload specialists, one of whom is a female.
China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation once stated that the mission life of China’s “Tiangong-1” space station will last about 15 years, which can accommodate three astronauts in orbit for a long term station with a half-year rotation, and a short-term stay of six people for ten days.
In June this year, Chinese state media announced it was partnering with 23 entities from 17 countries, including France, Germany, Japan, Kenya, and Peru, to carry out scientific experiments on board.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently issued a warning that China’s space station program may threaten the U.S. space superiority, after the International Space Station is decommissioned. Administrator Jim Bridenstine told the lawmakers this was critical to maintaining US space supremacy in the face of a planned Chinese space station that Beijing hopes will be operational by 2022.
The first parts of the International Space Station were launched in 1998 and it has been lived in continuously since 2000. The station, which serves as a space science lab and is a partnership between the US, Russia, Japan, Europe and Canada, is currently expected to be operated until 2030.
“In order to be able to have the United States of America have a presence in low Earth orbit, we have to be prepared for what comes next,” he added.
To that end, NASA has requested $150 million for the 2021 fiscal year to help develop the commercialization of low Earth orbit, defined as 2,000 km or less from the planet’s surface.
“China is rapidly building what they call the ‘Chinese International Space Station,’ and they’re rapidly marketing that space station to all of our international partners,” said Bridenstine. “It would be a tragedy if, after all of this time and all of this effort, we were to abandon low Earth orbit and cede that territory.”
Source: Voice of America, October 9, 2020