The International Space Station will soon have a stellar neighbor, courtesy of China. The latter plans to orbit its future multicapsule station within 10 years and thus become the third space station sent into space by humankind.
A decade ago, China placed first human into orbit, said The Guardian. Twenty years later, the country could rise to another level through longer stays in space, this time designing its own space station. Moreover, NASA would interpret this announcement as “potentially a political symbol”.
Although it weighs only 22 tons up to its launch, the Chinese space station should weigh more than 60 tons when completed, which is quite modest. By comparison, the International Space Station this rather a weight of 419 tons and the Russian Mir station, 139 tons. Specifically, the Chinese station should measure 18.1 meters long and have a diameter of 4.2 meters.
The Chinese station take the form of a capsule main, which are grafted two laboratory modules with a length of 14.4 meters, designed to conduct various experiments, including microgravity, on the effects of space radiation on cells and astronomy.
According to Chinese experts involved in the China Center for Aerospace Research (CARTC), this station would have an estimated life of about ten years and would be able to accommodate three astronauts. “China is a big country. She is very powerful and is becoming richer. The Chinese want to position themselves as key partners in the international arena. However, they decided to become politically independent and the decision is theirs”, said Bernardo Patti of European Space Agency, in response to the announcement made by China.
China’s announcement comes at a time when the countries involved in the race in aerospace development already imagine the next generation of space stations. These would be designed to serve as a springboard for missions to the Moon or Mars or asteroids.