Nation's space station could do some ISS work after 2024: observer
China will launch the core module of its space station by around 2020, with observers predicting that China's space station could play an important role in continuing the work of the International Space Station (ISS).
The launch of the core module is aimed at verifying the core techniques, and the team will focus on researching and manufacturing the prototype of the space station this year, Zhou Jianping, chief engineer of China's manned space program and a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said on Monday, the China News Service reported.[Special coverage]
"There is a possibility that China's space station will be the only one orbiting after 2024 when the ISS is expected to retire," Jiao Weixin, a space science professor at Peking University, told the Global Times on Monday.
China's space station will consist of a core module and two laboratory cabins, with a combined weight of about 90 tons, China National Radio reported.
"It is only a medium-sized station compared to the ISS, which weighs about 400 tons. But the space station can satisfy the experimental requirements for now, and it will gradually expand in scale," Jiao said.
An optics laboratory will also be attached to the space station, where a synoptic survey telescope will be available, China News Service reported. The survey telescope is expected to have as high a resolution as the Hubble Space Telescope and a field angle 200 times the Hubble.
The core module will be launched around 2020, after which the two labs will be attached.
Neither the core module nor the labs will carry astronauts when they are sent into space, China News Service reported.
China sent its first unmanned cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 in 2017, which successfully docked with the orbiting space lab Tiangong-2, as China entered the "new era of space stations," China News Service reported.