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China launches first module of new space station

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China launches the first module of a new space station

Space station: China has launched a key module of a new permanent space station. The latest in Beijing’s increasingly ambitious space program.

On the other side, the Tianhe module – which contains living quarters for crew members – was launched from the Wenchang Space Launch center on a Long March-5B Rocket.

China has been a late starter when it comes to space exploration. It was only in 2003 that it sent its first astronaut into orbit is the International Space Station, from which China is excluded.

Moreover, China has been a late starter when it comes to space exploration. It was only in 2003 that it sent its first astronaut into orbit, making it the third country to do so, after the Soviet Union and the US. So far, China has sent two previous space stations into orbit. The Tiangong-1 and Tiangong-2 were trial stations though. Simple modules that allowed only relatively short stays by astronauts.

China launches the first module of a new space station

The new, 66-tonne, multi-module Tiangong station is set to be operational for at least 10 years. Tianhe is the core component of it. While it is 16.6m long and 4.2m wide. It will provide power and propulsion and contains the life support technologies and living quarters required by visiting astronauts.

However, Beijing plans to have at least 10 more similar launches, carrying all the additional equipment into orbit. Before the completion of the station next year. It will orbit Earth at an altitude of 340 to 450km (210-280 miles). The only current space station in orbit is the ISS. Which is a collaboration between Russia, the US, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

The ISS is due to be retired after 2024, which could potentially leave Tiangong as the only space station in Earth’s orbit. After a high-speed catch-up with other nations.

China’s ‘space dream’

Chen Lan, an analyst who specializes in China’s space program, had told news agency AFP that the project was a “big deal”. This will be the largest international space co-operation project for China, so it’s significant, he said.

China has in recent years made no secret of its space ambitions. While China has poured significant funding into its space efforts, and in 2019 became the first country to send an uncrewed rover to the far side of the Moon.

President Xi Jinping has also thrown his support behind the country’s space endeavors and the Chinese state media regularly cast the “space dream‘ as one step in the path to “national rejuvenation”.

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